If you are like most runners, you were never really taught how to run. Over the years, runners develop habits and movement patterns that may not be the most efficient. This can explain why in a given year upwards of 80% of runners are likely to sustain an injury!
Our team of certified running coaches who are also Doctors of Physical Therapy are situated in the ideal position to not only understand running but also understand what it takes from a biomechanical standpoint to run as efficiently as you possibly can. Whether you are a competitive or recreational runner, we can help you improve your performance while reducing your risk of injury.
Book a discovery call with one of our Physical Therapists to find out how we can help you improve your performance.
“I’m a runner and they got me marathon ready. Beautiful personalities and awesome work.”
– Michelle H (5 Star Google Review)
Your gait refers to how you move your limbs in space to achieve locomotion – or more simply put, how you walk or run. A gait analysis enables us to identify any biomechanical inefficiencies in your gait cycle – which starts when one foot makes contact with the ground, and ends when that same foot makes contact with the ground again. Running may seem simple but it’s actually very complex with each runner’s gait pattern being unique to themselves. In fact your running gait is so unique it is likened to our fingerprints. No one step that you take will ever be the same.
A one-size-fits-all approach to resolving running issues may work for learning best general principles, but our bodies and running style is unique, and these subtle variations have significant implications on how to improve your running or eliminate your pain. While there are many reasons why gait patterns differ amongst us there are still core components that can be measured and evaluated to provide guidance on determining rehabilitation treatment and/or improvement in your running performance.
A gait analysis is not exclusively for elite-runners, and most people seeking a gait analysis here in New York City are actually recreational runners. Runner’s seek gait analysis for injury prevention, to learn the origin of an existing injury or to improve their running efficiency and performance (simply put to run faster!). If a runner is exhibiting an abnormal gait pattern, by analyzing their gait we can pinpoint the biomechanical cause and provide guidance on how to correct for inefficiencies in your gait to aid in rehabilitation, prevent injury recurrence or have you running faster than ever.
Gait analysis is recognized as a clinically useful tool to evaluate biomechanical faults and help direct treatment and rehabilitation accordingly. Any pain a runner is experiencing can result in an altered gait pattern, which then causes runners to rely on short-term gait compensations to keep running. These compensations to accommodate an initial pain can overload areas of the body not meant to endure these increased loads and lead to further injury.
Since it’s very difficult to detect any of the often very subtle adjustments you’ve made to your gait – by yourself while you are running – this is where a gait analysis for runners can help you. A gait analysis can detect long-term, inefficient movement patterns which can then be used to determine specific corrective exercises to address these inefficiencies and greatly improve your running form.
Although all runner’s have their own signature to their gait, enabling them to achieve an efficient pattern of movement when running, a commonality is a runner’s posture along with the location of their foot strike relative to the body, these are two primary components that make an efficient gait pattern possible. If either posture or foot strike location are suboptimal a runner will make compensations in some way, which over the long term can add stress and strain to tissues not designed to deal with this added stress. This is why and how understanding your gait can be a useful tool for helping you run more adeptly.
Without a proper understanding of your own running mechanics, you could potentially be setting yourself up for an inevitable injury.
Runners occasionally sustain acute injuries such as ankle sprains and muscle strains, but the majority of running injuries are overuse injuries. An overuse running injury is generally agreed to be a musculoskeletal ailment produced from running that causes a restriction of running speed, distance, duration, or frequency for at least 1 week (Koplan et al. 1982; Macera et al. 1989; Hreljac et al. 2000). However the good news is if a runner is able to modify their gait patterns and correct the abnormal biomechanics, they will increase performance while the risk for further injury is likely to be reduced.
We want to know about you! Knowing how you train and what goals you have, as well as your past medical history, injuries and the footwear you are wearing as this information is crucial to customizing a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs..
We will perform a series of tests and measures designed to identify any asymmetries and imbalances that may affect your running economy or impact your injury risk. By assessing your mobility, stability and strength we can understand how your body can be affecting and limiting your gait pattern.
You will run on a treadmill while video is captured from different angles and data collected from our DorsaVi wearable motion sensors. This will measure the angle of your joints at different stages of your running gait, your running cadence, ground reaction forces, the initial peak acceleration (the force with which your foot initially contacts the ground) and stance times. We may also capture your walking gait and your running gait at various speeds to better understand how the body responds as the demands imposed on it are changed.
From there, the video is analyzed using frame by frame motion assessment to determine how each joint is moving while you are running, how your muscles are working to control the movement of your joints and identify any gait deviations that could be contributing to injury or inefficiencies. A review of the findings is then shared with you along with insight into how you can decrease the stress to the injured area (if you are feeling pain), footwear recommendations and gait retraining strategies to make your running more efficient. We may also recommend a round of physical therapy if you are experiencing pain or are at increased risk for injury.
Longer strides at a lower frequency; Stride length is not as important as stride rate in any form of human running (sprinting or distance). With a reduced cadence you are more likely to have increased loading rates due to a “bouncy” gait pattern (increased vertical displacement).
Foot Strike Location
With your foot landing in front of your hips; you are increasing what we call the “braking force”, this will increase the energy demands needed to propel yourself forwards while also increasing the forces being placed upon the joints of the lower body. Running alone will place 2.5 – 3 times your body weight in force on your joints, we don’t want to increase that further with a poor running gait.
Lack of Core Strength
Which results in the hips dropping and instability which can cause poor energy transfer and the knee and ankle to rotate inwards. When running, core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, with less rocking and thus, less excess energy expended while also significantly improving balance.
Lack of Flexibility & Strength
Particularly in the glutes and calves. Strength and flexibility can also improve your running performance. Flexibility allows for a greater range of motion, enabling your body to move in the most efficient manner. While all of these common gait analysis outcomes can result in injury and or reduced running performance and efficiency – they can also all be corrected. An unfortunate truth is most recreational runners generally don’t concern themselves with “upskilling" their running technique or training and perhaps this is why nearly 80% of all runners injure themselves. At Perfect Stride it is our mission to keep runners out of pain and prevent as many sports injuries as possible. Part of this mission is achieved through our gait analysis for runners wherein we learn about measurable aspects of your running gait, foot strike, and how it affects performance and injury rate.
Perfect Stride’s Gait Analysis for Runners service delivers customized plans that target inefficiencies in your gait, offer education on body mechanics and physiologic capabilities and rehabilitation for injuries. Based on the data collected our physical therapists will provide detailed recommendations about your running technique, suggest strengthening and stretching programs and even offer advice on proper shoe selection. We also offer Physical Therapy for running injuries, strength and conditioning plans for runners and run coaching from a therapist who is also a certified running coach to help you achieve any running related goals that you may have and run your best! Contact us to have a more comprehensive conversation about how our gait analysis services may be helpful to you.