Gait analysis is something that I do believe every runner should have done when they first start out running and then again every couple of years or if injury occurs. It is most commonly used to look at the foot and ankle complex to help determine what sort of running shoes best suit your feet, but should also look above this, at the knee and hip especially to determine movement dysfunctions higher up the chain.
What is Gait Analysis?
The Gait Cycle is the way we walk and run. It is divided up into the stance phase – where the foot is in contact with the ground, and the swing phase where the leg is swinging forward to take the next step.
So, gait analysis is the examination of the way we walk, or in this case, run! Gait analysis is a very useful tool to tell us about the way we move as it can highlight potential problems before they arise.
Who should get it done?
I firmly believe that everyone could benefit from a gait analysis, runner or not! But runners in particular can find it really useful and can learn so much about their body from an in-depth analysis. The information can then be used to help with their running – for example, making sure they have suitable running shoes and identifying muscle imbalances which can be corrected with specific strengthening and stretching exercises.
What happens during a Gait Analysis?
There are a couple of different methods of gait analysis but the most popular method which you will probably find in your local running shop uses a treadmill and a camera attached to a computer.
The person doing the assessment will usually ask you to run on the treadmill whilst they take a video of you running. This is always done from the back, but in more detailed analyses should also look at your gait from the front and side-on.
Once they have enough footage (you don’t need very much – a minute or two should suffice), they will get you to stop and then will play the video back in slow-motion. This helps to highlight potential movement dysfunctions which at full speed are hard to spot.
There are special programs which help to identify problems.
Where can I get a Gait Analysis?
The number of places offering gait analysis is on the rise as the software required becomes more affordable and there is increasing demand for it. Most specialist running shops will offer this service which is usually free if you then buy whichever running shoes they recommend! If you don’t, there may be a small fee.
Sports injury clinics and podiatrists may also offer gait analysis, which may be more expensive, but is usually more in-depth and the person assessing you tends to be more highly qualified than those in a shop.