ALIGN: Practice Management Solution

Running Gait Analysis

Want to run better and faster?
Running gait analysis is a solution

If you are an athlete, you would love to run faster with astounding physical endurance and if you love an evening stroll you would love to walk with increased efficiency and stamina. To increase the running quality and efficiency the physical trainers and therapists perform a test known as the gait analysis.

Gait is the individual’s unique pattern of moving their bodies forward. Whereas running gait analysis is the study of the mechanism of the body while running. It also includes the study of inadequately controlled movements and the components of movement such as foot contact placement, stride length, joint support while moving forward. 

Biochemical abnormalities and running faults can also be solved with running gait analysis so the risk of an injury can be avoided. A holistic view of the body can be provided by this analysis through the use of video, direct analysis, and by using some other techniques.

Running gait

Running gait is a cycle in which the leg travels in one step while moving forward. The cycle can be divided into two main phases: the stance phase and swing phase.

Stance phase 
 When your body makes initial contact with the ground it is known as the stance phase and it further can be divided into three sub-phases

  • Initial contact
  • Midstance
  • Propulsion

Initial contact, also known as the heel strike, identifies when the foot first makes contact with the ground. When your foot strikes the ground it exerts the force that is being absorbed by the limb and foot. This vibratory force can be up to three times while you run but it depends upon the weight of the body. The muscles absorb the force to prevent joint injury and damage. This phase prepares the body for the next phase.

Your body moves forward during midstance, and the weight of your entire body is supported by a single leg. The duration of this phase is around fractions of seconds. This stage is very important as the body balances on one leg and simultaneously prepares the same leg to move further, absorbing the force at its highest to generate the propulsive force. During midstance, the ankle supinates and the foot flattens. The conditioning programs should incorporate single-leg exercises for runners to prevent injury at this stage due to the single-leg imbalances.

The propulsion phase involves the lifting of the foot from the ground. The stored energy releases that help in driving the foot forward. The muscles contract during this phase and help in lifting the foot up and away from the ground. The weight shifts to the front of the foot and leg transit from stance to swing phase.

Swing phase
Your leg is in the swing phase when you lift your foot from the ground. 

This phase begins when your foot loses contact from the ground and ends while your foot touches the ground again.

Float phase
The float phase is the duration when both of the feet are in the air. This phase differentiates walking from running. When walking, only one foot is in contact with the ground, whereas when running, both feet are lifted off the ground at the same time.

The purpose of the improvement of running mechanics is to create more strength and power in extending the float time and to decrease the time on the ground.

Running style analysis

Neutral
When you land a foot on the ground it first lands on the outer edge then rolls inward and finishes perpendicular to the ground. This movement is known as pronation and is the natural shock absorber.

Contact is spread out on the edges of feet while keeping the knee and hip aligned before the next stride.

Overpronation
It’s the most common gait as your feet land on the ground, it moves inward in an excessive manner. The knee will come together, the hip will rotate and then drop.

Overpronation is the most common cause of injuries.

Underpronation (supination)
This is the opposite of overpronation as the foot lands on its edges, it doesn’t roll in completely.

During the gait analysis, other factors such as rhythm and posture of the body are also taken into account.

Running gait analysis Advantages

Running gait analysis has potential benefits for the jog lovers and athletes such as

  1. It helps in identifying your running style: either it is over and under pronated, supinated. 
  2. Through running gait analysis, you can analyze that your movement is efficient and risk-free or you are prone to injury.
  3. It helps in improving the running speed and endurance. 
  4. Foot problems are common in athletes; choosing the right shoe is critical to avoiding foot pain and other problems. The gait analysis helps the athlete in finding the perfect shoe that fits well and provides maximum support.
  5. Gait analysis helps the athlete to gain a competitive edge by learning more about their biomechanics. 
  6. It helps in finding foot orthotics.
  7. You can manage the best routine to keep your body in peak condition by using gait analysis.
  8. Gait analysis helps in managing the daily discomfort and pain by identifying the difficulties hidden in your walking patterns such as unusual head or arm position and stride length.
  9. The identification of over and underactive muscles can prevent injuries and inefficiencies in the future.

The gait performance and function can be improved by gait analysis and assessing other circumstances that can affect the walking style, such as footwear and workplace environment.

Sources:
Running gait
”Understanding the running gait cycle”
”Gait analysis for runners’

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