Natural Gait Analysis

Natural Gait Analysis
Natural Gait Analysis

What's that?

In a nut shell, Gait Analysis is the study of human motion. It is commonly used in sports biomechanics to assess how athletes can run more efficiently and to identify posture-related or movement-related problems.

Do I need it?

Gait analysis is not exclusive to top athletes. Every runner will instantly feel the advantage of a properly fitted running shoe. In order to fit a shoe, it is necessary to analyse the individual running style first.

So what's it all about?

To simplify the matter, we can speak about three different types of footstrike:
Neutral (foot lands upright)
Overpronation (foot collapses medially or to the 'inside')
Supination or Underpronation (foot rolls laterally or to the 'outside')

Pronation happens in three planes: arch collapse, heel rotation, and abduction of the foot (when your forefoot points away from the direction of travel, Mary Poppins style!).

With the purpose of analysing and understanding the way you run, at Run and Become we use a system named Natural Gait Analysis.

Sounds complicated. How does it work?

To start with we simply watch you run outside on a hard surface. We are trained to see subtle movements of the body, the position of knees, the angle of the legs.

It is important to observe you running away from us to see heel rotation, and towards us to observe arch movement. That enables us to get an accurate reading of not only how your feet, ankles and knees move whilst in motion, but also your hips, shoulders and neck.

Is my running style likely to stay the same?

Naturally our body changes over the years, depending on our lifestyle. So what's right for you one year can change the next if your lifestyle (or work-style) has changed. That's why it's important to have your gait analysed each time you replace your shoes.

At Run and Become we'll often ask you about other forms of exercise you do, so we can take into consideration how your body moves, not just when running but during your daily patterns of movement as well. This way we get the entire picture and can offer as much help as possible.

 

So how do I choose a shoe?

Once we've seen you run in a pair of neutral shoes, the next step is to bring out the shoes most suitable for your foot strike.

We choose from over 220 different models and each brand of running shoes has its own way of cushioning and supporting your feet. They all offer various features and because we all move in our own individual way, the right shoe for one person won’t work for someone else. Hence the great importance of being fitted by staff who are highly trained in gait analysis and have a thorough knowledge of the shoes.

How you feel is of paramount importance. Running on the pavement is a great way to test the effectiveness of the cushioning and the way the support holds when going around corners. Naturally, you need to feel fully confident in the shoes you purchase, that's why we are here to help and guide you to your perfect pair of running shoes.

I've seen other people use treadmills, videocameras and computers to analyse gaits. Surely that’s more accurate?

Well, since we opened in 1982 we've seen a lot of different ways of assessing body movement and foot strike, and we've experimented with some of them, but never found anything more effective than doing gait analysis the natural way.

There have been plenty of studies showing that people run differently on a treadmill from on the road. This is because on firm ground our legs create a propulsive force to accelerate the body and drive it forward. Simply put: runner moves, ground stays static.

When using video gait analysis on a treadmill, our body stays in the same position (in the forwards-backwards plane), there is no forward movement. Instead the running surface disappears behind us. Here the function of the leg muscles is not to propel but re-position our legs so as to keep our body stable, so the situation changes: runner is static and ground moves.

People who aren’t used to treadmill running take some time to adjust and get used to the different dynamic, which again affects the gait. As most of us use running shoes either in combination with outside and gym, or purely outside, we prefer to analyse the gait on a hard surface. If you are looking for running shoes purely to wear in the gym, we will be able to take this into consideration too.

Further reading...

Here's some more info on treadmill versus over-ground running: