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Importance of a Gait Analysis

We are just about eight weeks out of the 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon. For most, you are about to start a structured, intense 8-week program that is designed both physically and mentally for the course. (To get a customized plan click here). Staying injury free will be significant. In the past few weeks, I’ve discussed the different types of runs and why you should be doing them all, the importance of strength training as a runner, and the importance of rest days. Today I’ll be talking about gait analysis and how it can keep you healthier as a runner.

So what is a gait analysis?
In basic terms, gait analysis is a way to evaluate how someone walks or runs. This is done with a phone or iPad. From there a trained coach can analyze the way in which your foot strikes the ground with every stride. This along with your injury history can provide crucial information into making sure you are wearing the right running shoe for you and your body.

So what does looking at my foot strike tell me?
Pronation refers to the way in which your foot rolls inwards as it strikes the floor. It’s your body’s way of distributing impact, and a natural part of the gait cycle. Understanding your pronation type is essential for selecting the right kind of running shoe and ultimately could help you to avoid injury.

There are three pronation types:
1. OVERPRONATION

Around 70% of the population overpronate, so this is by far the most common pronation type amongst runners. As the foot is planted it rolls inward excessively, transferring weight to the inner edge instead of centering it on the ball of the foot. It’s usually seen in runners with low arches or flat feet.

Potential injuries: Shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, heel spurs
Recommended shoe: Stability

2. SUPINATION


This is when the outer side of the foot strikes the ground at a steeper than average angle with little or no movement inward, causing a jarring effect, and a significant transmission of shock through the lower leg. It’s usually seen in runners with high arches.

Potential injuries: Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle strain
Recommended shoe: NEUTRAL

3.  NEUTRAL

Usually seen in runners with normal-size arches, neutral pronation occurs when the foot lands on the outer edge and then rolls inward in a controlled manner, distributing weight evenly and helping to absorb shock. On push off, there is an even distribution of pressure from the front of the foot.

Potential injuries: Injuries are less likely for neutral runners.
Recommended shoe: Neutral

Can’t make it to a store or see a coach? Try this quick at home test to see what kind of shoe you should be wearing. The wet foot test can be done by stepping onto a paper towel with a wet foot and provide valuable feedback on the type of shoe you should be wearing.


Arch type: High arch
Indicates: Possible underpronation
Recommended shoe: Neutral


Arch type: Normal
Indicates: A neutral gait
Recommended shoe: Neutral


Arch type: Flat or low
Indicates: Possible overpronation
Recommended shoe: Stability

In closing, just because a shoe is the most expensive or highly recommended doesn’t mean that it is the right shoe for you. Test out a run on a treadmill before you run outside and lastly NEVER run a race in a brand new pair of shoes. Race shoes should have at a minimum of 50 miles on them.

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