Gait Analysis

Written by Jared Vincenti
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For both amateur and world-class runners, perfecting your gait is one of the easiest ways to make your running more productive. By finding the most efficient way to move your legs as you run, you get rid of energy waste and reduce your chances of injury. The result is a stronger stride that is easier to maintain, which makes worlds of difference in competitive distance running. Often, all it takes to perfect your stride is looking at it and analyzing it, which motion analysis systems enable you to do.

Common Gait Problems

The simplest element of gait analysis is to examine your posture. A steady and upright torso allows your lungs to use their maximum capacity, which means you tire less quickly. Gait analysis can see whether you lean to one side, or even if you start to change your posture as you tire. Correcting your posture is the easiest way to improve your running, but there are more subtle elements of form that can be adjusted.

The position of your ankles as you land from each stride will be a large factor in determining how much strain gets placed on different tendons. A proper stride goes from heel to toe along the center of your foot. However, many people are naturally inclined to roll their foot to one side or another when they make a stride. A simple insert in your shoe can correct this problem, and allow you to run longer without cramps from strain.

Finally, gait analysis can pick out inefficiencies in your stride. Whether one foot kicks out to the side more than the other, or your shoulders sway from side to side, these represent energy waste by your body. You are producing energy as you run, and the fastest runners are those most able to direct the energy forward. Any motion to the side is not only energy that is not moving you forward, but also represents a need for more energy to balance you back out again.

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