Running is actually quite a complex skill. If you want to get better at basketball or netball, the most logical thing to do would be to work with a coach and practice. Just like these skills, running should be viewed the same way. A running gait analysis gives you the opportunity to have your gait assessed by a professional and help you work on and improve the skill of running.
Running injuries are multifactorial and complex. In fact, the jury is still out on the age-old question “What causes a running related injury (RRI)?”. There has been research conducted on strength, flexibility, alignment, biomechanics, training changes, capacity, and psychosocial factors. Most of these studies report sparse or inconsistent results. So where does this leave us? Well, it is important to understand that while there is a limited amount of evidence supporting the link between RRI and previously mentioned risk factors that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no link. Instead, we should aim to treat every runner individually; investigating all possible risk factors and focusing on what does help injured runners; education and training advice, increasing recovery and sleep, progressive rehab and gait re-training to reduce load on sensitive tissue.
So what is a Running Gait Analysis?
A CSSM running gait analysis offers an in depth examination into the way you walk or run. Using a treadmill, high-speed video recorder and specialised biomechanical analysis software, your walking and running technique is assessed frame by frame to detect any biomechanical faults.
Whether you’re injured, want to improve your running technique or running performance; gait analysis can help you achieve your goals. Often this style of analysis is the key to understanding the cause of many common sporting injuries including shin splints, stress fractures and heel pain (plantar fasciitis).
We aim to look at your current training load, psychosocial factors, strength, capacity, range of motion and movement patterns while running to build a picture of what might be influencing your running related injury. Once we have identified a few key aspects, we can start to focus on improving them. This may include gait re-training.
What is gait re-training?
There is no “ideal” running gait but there are common patterns that may load certain tissues in a way that in combination with several other factors may contribute to a running related injury. Gait re-training is a relatively new intervention with the idea being that a clinician will assess your gait in relation to your pathology and pain and then use cues to modify the load on the target tissue and reduce pain. The reason this is necessary is because running is a coordination drill which uses a different part of the brain than is used when completing strength training.
Strength rehab can alter forces (power output) or create kinetic changes but is unable to create alterations in joint angles (movement) or create kinematic change. It is therefore important to train or re-train the skill of running when treating running related injuries in addition to completing a strength rehab program. Gait re-training involves looking at your movement patterns, step width, length and cadence and breaking them down into digestible pieces for you to understand. We will then work on a few running cues together to alter how you move slightly to offload your injury. Lastly, we’ll put in plan a place how you can integrate these into your running routine.
What does the research say?
There are a number of studies that have shown long term effects of gait retraining. Noehren et al (2011) and Willy et al (2021) completed 8 sessions of gait re-training with 10 woman with PFP and achieved significant improvements in pain and function. This was still maintained 1 month later. Chan et al. (2018) took 320 novice runners and randomly assigned them to either gait retraining or control groups . The gait retraining consisted of 8 sessions over 2 weeks. At the end the gait retraining group reported 62% lower injury risk and an 18-20% reduction in impact loading.
What about running economy? Well there are studies suggesting an improvement in that too.. Quinn et al. (2019) recruited 22 well trained female runners and divided them into two groups. The experimental group which was involved in step frequency training significantly lowered both their oxygen consumption and heart rate when compared to the control group. This may be a simple and effective way to improve running economy which could lead to improvements in performance.
To find out more about a CSSM gait analysis click here.
About the author
Alicia Schifferle firmly believes that healthy feet equal a healthy life. As a podiatrist, she has an understanding of the vast range of musculoskeletal injuries that occur in the foot and leg as well as the most appropriate and effective treatment approaches for each individual patient. Whilst knowledgeable in all types of podiatric care, Alicia has a particular interest in sport related injuries and the relationship between foot mechanics and performance or injury.
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