More often than not, running is considered to be an easy or straightforward exercise that does not require any additional equipment. Moreover, running has multiple benefits- be it short-term or long-term. But is running that simple or uncomplicated? You might want to reconsider that opinion.
Runners have a stride that allows them to stay in motion while having complete control over their leg movements. Unless and until they scrutinize their own stride, they will not be able to improve their form. Generally, this is known as running gait.
Meaning of Running Gait
Let us look at the word with its proper meaning.
Basically, gait means the manner of moving or walking on foot. It is a series of foot movements through which you can move forward.
A running gait is a cycle that a leg travels during one step while running. In other words, it is the stride that your feet undertake while running. It has two main phases: swing and stance.
Under the umbrella of the swing phase, there is a flight or float subphase as well.
Coming to the stance phase, it includes the time when the foot comes in contact with the ground while the body is over the foot. Impact absorption is a part of this phase.
Combining both the phases, your foot transitions into the swing phase of gait once it leaves the ground. It moves forward, flexes at the hip and knees, and makes contact with the ground again.
The float stage is a brief period where the foot is not in contact with the ground. It is floating in the air without any support. This float stage stands as a difference between walking gait and running gait.
There are three types of pronation in running gait.
The first one is the neutral or normal pronation where the foot is in full contact with the ground. The feet roll inwards about 15% for shock absorption.
The second one is underpronation where the outer part of the heel comes in contact with the surface, allowing your foot to roll forward less than 15%.
The third is the overpronation where the foot rolls inward more than 15%. This can cause stability issues with the ankle and foot.
What is Running Gait Analysis?
The running gait needs to be monitored through a proper analysis for better performance. You can get it done professionally by undertaking a running gait analysis. It consists of capturing the entire gait cycle through a slow-motion video from the start to the end.
Such an analysis not only considers your foot movements, but also the same of your arms, hips, and knees.
But why should you have a running gait analysis? The following are some of its benefits:
An analysis can help a runner understand their stride and look for any discrepancies. Only when they are aware of the problem, they leave room for improvement. It helps them optimize their performance by running at a better speed in the long run.
Prevention of Injuries
Injuries are imminent if you are running improperly. Such corrections can be made by analyzing your running gait. By identifying the issue, you can improve your stride and prevent any probable injuries in the future.
Better Recovery Process
A qualitative running gait can build stronger muscles by identifying the issues and allow you to add more flexibility to your stride. This can help with the injury recovery process.
Methods of Running Gait Analysis
After understanding the benefits of getting running gait analysis, let us learn the ways for getting running gait analysis. For a better approach and wide range analysis, we have inculcated both- professional as well as self-assessment of running gait. You can choose any as per your situation and comfort.
You can analyze your running gait with the help of a mirror by examining through the following procedures. Ensure that you are not wearing any socks. For an enhanced scrutinization, we advise you to wear shorts.
a) Heel Rises on One Foot
While standing in front of a mirror, try lifting yourself and stand on your tiptoes. You should be able to accomplish this without any difficulty. Repeat this fifteen times and examine your balance and movement range.
You must be able to lift your leg completely. Moreover, the knee should remain on top of the foot without rolling in. Lastly, check that the arch that forms at the top of your lift.
b) Small Knee Bend
Bend your knees on one leg and repeat it fifteen times at a speed that you’re comfortable with. Inspect your knees, hips, and foot while doing so.
Your hips must stay at the same level without the hip drifting outwards. The knees should not drift inwards and your feet should be pointing outwards. Ensure that the arch remains upright, and the toes are not clawing.
Skip on one foot ten times and examine your movements.
The hips should not drop while skipping, neither should they move outside on each landing. The knees should not roll inside and the foot must point outwards. The arch must not bulge inwards as well.
If your form fulfills the requirements mentioned above, your running gait analysis is correct. If not, you must improve your stride and range of movements.
The following are some of the most effective professional techniques through which you can get your running gait analysis.
a) Motion Analysis
Motion capture technology is used in which the markers are attached to the person in question. This is used to track their motions and movements. Passive markers are utilized so that they could reflect infrared light. On the other hand, active markers are used to emit light.
Such technology helps in determining the position and velocity of the runner. Most of the time, treadmills are used for this analysis.
b) Force Analysis
Force analysis helps in determining and measuring the contact forces between the ground and the foot during the stance phase. It helps in examining the impact forces, breaking forces, track changes, as well as overall pressure.
Instrumented treadmills are used for such an analysis.
c) In-shoe Pressure Sensors
The in-shoe pressure sensors are used to determine the distribution of force over the feet’ plantar surfaces. Moreover, it also sheds some light on the loading of the foot during gait.
Such an alternative analysis method is portable, lightweight, and can be used by all.
Accelerometers are body-fixed sensors that are used to quantify the shock experienced through running. It evaluates the overall effect of insole and footwear while also determining the effect of fatigue on running gait.
Electrogoniometers are used to measure joint angles during running and other movements. It uses motion capture systems that are fixated on the skin on either side of the joint with double adhesive tape.
Running is not as easy as it sounds, or how people interpret it to be. It takes proper training, dedication, correct form, and immense motivation. But with a proper running gait, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on the same.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.