Runner's Gait analysis

As some of you may already know, I’m a keen runner myself, I’ve been running since my teens, I’m a long distance runner. I’ve had a couple of recent injuries, I’ve had hip surgery in 2019 and then I broke my ankle with severe grade 2 tears to 4 ligaments in 2020. Which has set me back but I am back running rehabbing myself, with my long term goal to run a marathon. 

So you can rest assured you are speaking to someone who has the knowledge and experience of running. I know first hand what it’s like to be injured and unable to run due to the pain and the frustration that goes with it. I get it, it sucks. BUT I can help you get back on track to your goals.

Here I will answer all your questions about the runner’s gait analysis. If you still have questions please do get in contact. I’ll be happy to help.

Who can have a runner’s gait analysis?

Simple answer to this one, anyone can. Even if you have never ever ran before in your life and you feel like you want to give it a try but you have absolutely no idea where to start and worry about injuries. Give me a quick call or email and I can give you some pointers. I’ll do the gait analysis on you before you start running so I can advise you where you need to strengthen first to avoid possible injuries. I’ll give you running tips and I can even point you in the direction of some fantastic running groups and coaches, the best strength and conditioning gyms with expert coaches depending on what it is you need, local to Macclesfield if that is what you would like.

Remember it’s never too late to start running, but it is always best to get checked out first before starting something new.

You can have a gait analysis if you are already a runner for pleasure or for racing but you just can’t seem to work out why you keep getting this niggle or recurring injury. Or you used to run, but you haven’t for quite some time and you’d like to get back to it, for that peace of mind.

You may want the analysis to see if we can improve your gait to make you run further and faster, improving your performance and get you in an efficient running gait, saving you energy so you can run for longer and faster!

What is it, what do you do?

Runners gait analysis is where I watch and record you running in the real world (not on a treadmill, unless you only ever run on one and never outside). I replay the footage through a program where I watch it frame by frame slowing it down. I am looking at your running biomechanics, seeing how you move through the air whilst running, to see if I can spot any injuries you are predisposed to, weaknesses, the reason why you keep getting the same injury, pain or discomfort during or after a run. I look to see how you strike your feet on the ground. I can then work out after the full analysis a treatment plan to overcome these. So together we can get you running pain free, avoiding injuries and to improve your speed and muscular endurance. The end goal is for you to be able to run in confidence, for pleasure or for competitive racing pain and injury free.

I don’t analyse just your feet to put you in a £100+ pair of trainers like most sport shoe shops do… I don’t sell trainers!

I analyse you from head to toe.  I ask you to arrive at your appointment wearing everything you would wear and take with you on a run. This includes all of your tech like your phone, headphones, running belt/bag, drink bottle/bladder etc. I may ask you to bring your old running trainers if you still have them as I examine the worn tread on your shoes too! After watching you run and replaying it through the program, I examine you from head to toe, I check your posture, I will examine your feet, checking your arches, foot and ankle strength and your range of movement. I even check to see how dexterous your toes are, I look to see how your toes are while you stand, if they are splayed apart or bunched together, if you have a bunion etc. I’m checking all of your aerodynamics while you run, how you move. You spend a lot of your time running, actually in mid air and not in contact with the ground. So you use your whole body, I check for everything so you get optimal results. Depending on your results I will give you some exercises to do to help improve this. If time permits I can do some sports massage on you to help get you on the right road to recovery, you can book a longer session to have a massage following the analysis.

The types of foot strikes explained, and some basic running biomechanics

I think if you are a runner or aspire to become one it is a good idea to understand how your body works and why.

In the analysis I will look to see how your feet strike the ground. Are you a heel striker, are you a midfoot striker or are you a toe striker? Being a heel striker can in some cases lead to knee, hip and back pain as the impact is going straight through your leg, straight into your hips and pelvis and dissipates through your spine. It also slows you down as it acts like a break, you then have to roll your foot all the way through to your toes to give you the lift off to take the next step. Your foot is in contact with the ground for longer which slows you down and you require more energy on your run, it’s not the most efficient way of running. Same with toe striking, you are putting strain on your front foot and calf muscle to do the work.

We are designed to run being a midfoot striker, that doesn’t mean your heel can’t touch the ground, it just shouldn’t be taking all the impact – remember we want to avoid injuries. We have 3 arches in our foot, yes that’s right we have 3, they are your lateral, medial and transverse arch. Lateral – the outside edge of your foot the side where your pinky toe is, medial – the inside of your foot the one everyone knows about and the transverse arch, the one that goes over the top of your foot. When you run and your foot strikes the ground they are designed to compress and flatten out your foot. Your toes also splay apart (this is why I check your foot and toe dexterity.) This is where the impact gets dissipated, your feet are designed to take the most of it, not the rest of your body. Your foot is also not in contact with the ground for as long because the 3 arches that have just compressed on the impact will naturally contract back acting like a spring to drive your foot up and forwards to your next step. This all happens in milliseconds – Aren’t our bodies just amazing!!!

If our feet have always been in ill fitting shoes they can cause your feet to become deformed, sometimes permanently. Which will inhibit their natural function. If you look at people in less advantaged countries where they have no shoes to wear, look at their feet, what do we notice? Their feet are wide, toes are spread apart beautifully and they often are very fast at running outside with no shoes on, this is because they are a midfoot striker and their bodies have developed in this way and not been compromised by wearing shoes!

Fun activity for you to try at home

Before you do this make sure the ground hasn’t got any glass or something sharp – I’d hate you to hurt yourself!

If you run across a room with hard floor or outside on the concrete in trainers you won’t think twice about heel striking because you know the trainers will cushion it for you. Listen to you running with your trainers, you can hear the footsteps. Now do it again but with no shoes or socks on. Feel how you run, what feels different? You aren’t running with your heels striking the ground, you keep your feet under your body more and listen, isn’t that much quieter?!

So now you can see how wearing shoes can have an impact on how you run. There are many athletes who choose to run with no shoes and they are fast!! Of course running outside barefoot isn’t always an option due to safety from sharp objects, but you can get different running shoes that can give you the same feeling.

However I do not advise you just immediately swap from your regular trainers to barefoot ones, because you will hurt afterwards, you are too used to running the way you have done for a long time, you need to train and strengthen differently to how you have been. I also would not recommend you changing your gait if you have a race coming up soon. I will just help you to get by in the meantime depending on your analysis results. There is no 1 rule to suit everyone, no 1 treatment plan. If you do want to improve your speed and performance and are happy to change your gait we can do this, but be prepared it can take a year to do it.

The analysis takes approx 1 hour to do, like I said i don’t just look at your feet to put you in expensive trainers, it’s a thorough examination. Which you won’t get in a sports shop!

Also make sure when you book your appointment that it is at a time that’s in daylight. In the winter months when it is dark outside I can’t video you as the visibility isn’t good enough for me to clearly see.