If you are a new runner, then I am sure you must be overwhelmed with the running terminologies – cadence, foot-strike, tempo,RICE ectra..Sometimes these new terms may bother until you know about. Here is why we talk about “Running Gait” and how it helps..
What is running gait?
Running gait can be defined as how your foot rolls while you are running. Your running gait is dependant on your posture and how your foot ilands on the ground. Running gait can be classified as – Overpronation, Undepronation or Supination and Nuetral or normal pronation.
Should you really care about the running gait? Does it make a lot of difference in running ? Let’s find out..
How do I know my running gait?
You can find this out through your gait analysis.
Gait analysis is a method to analyze how you walk or run.
The results identify any abnormalities if present in the gait cycle.
It is very helpful as it determines any overactive or underactive muscle in the foot which can cause any injury.
The gait can be divided into 3 categories which are the different kinds of Pronations.
Overpronation – Overpronation is a condition in which your foot rolls inwards more than 15%. Around 70% of people are overpronated, so it is the most common pronation type seen in runners. Runners with a low arch or flat feet often have this pattern.
Underpronation or Supination – In this type, the outer part of the foot hits the ground first at a sharp angle and the foot rolls less than 15%. This is usually seen in runners with high arches.
Neutral or Normal – Here the foot land completely on the ground and the rolling inwards s about 15 %. The weight is evenly divided across the foot to absorb the shock.
The most common way to find out the running gait is through observation.
Some of the specialized stores use tools like Treadmill with the camera.
You are made to wear a neutral shoe, where is there is no extra cushioning or support.
You are made to run for a small duration like 20 sec and your running pattern is recorded.
The specialists evaluate your running pattern and suggests you the right shoes based on your running gait.
Apart from this at home also you can find out your running gait using some simple tricks.
- With the help of a friend– You can ask your friend to observe your running pattern from behind. If your knees are coming in you are overpronating. If your knees are coming out, you are underpronating.
- Keep tracks of pressure points while running – If you feel any pain in your knees or shins post-run then you are overpronating. If you feel any pain in your ankels this might be the sign of underpronating.
- From the sole of your running shoes – Sometimes your pronation type is reflected from your shoe sole. If you have been using your running shoes for some time, you can see the wear and tear of the sole depending on the pronation. If you are overpronated, the tip of the shoe is worn out. If you are underpronated, the sides of the shoes are worn out.
- Wet foot method – This method is used mostly to find the shape of the foot arch. You need to wet your foot and take the impression on a thick paper. To get the correct footprint you need to bend your knee and see the impression of weight on the foot. It is said that people with a low arch or flat feet are mostly overpronated while those with medium to the high arch are neutral or supinated.
What is normal gait?
A normal or neutral running gait is considered the most optimum running form.
Here the foot lands on the outer edge and then rolls inwards in a controlled manner.
The body weight is evenly distributed across the foot.
It provides a better balance to the body and the chances of injury are less.
Since the weight is well distributed the soreness of the muscle is reduced…
How do I fix my running gait?
The running gait plays a very important role in your running journey.
Having a proper running gait is essential if you want to prevent running-related injuries.
Your gait is developed when you are learning to crawl as a baby.
Some theories state that neutral gait is the best to have.
While other states, if you have a good running economy and there is no significant injury then there is no reason for you to change your gait.
So it totally up to you if you want to change or not.
Here are some ways which can help you improve your gait.
- Focusing on Stride – Your performance is dependant on both the foot strike and your stride. The first thing that you need to is to determine your foot strike. The foot strike is a very important factor in your running gait as it shows how the shock will be impacted. It can be categorized as:
- Heel Strike – In this type the heel touches the ground first, then the midfoot and then the toe.
- Midfoot Strike – In this type the midfoot touches the ground first, then the heel followed by the toe.
- Forefoot Strike – In this type, runner lands on his toes and the heel rarely touch the ground. This is usually seen in the case of sprinters
Mostly the heel strike is slower than the forefoot strike. The forefoot strike leads to lesser impact and injury. However, if you have a longer stride then the forefoot strike can be injurious. The idea is to have a smaller stride. Your feet should as close as possible to your body. Shorter stride reduces the stress on your muscles and bones and makes you run more efficiently. With a shorter stride, no matter what is your stride your performance will definitely improve.
- Improving the Form – You can make big difference in your performance by making small changes in your posture. Try running with a straight back and spines, chin-up, looking at the horizon, relaxed shoulders and tight core. Your abs, glutes, and hips should be strong while you are running. Also, you must have a good breathing technique. Try to breathe from your stomach.
- Performing Conditioning Exercises for better gait – Exercises to enhance flexibility also improves the glutes. Limited flexibility will limit your body movement. With better flexibility, you will be able to run with better hip extension, calf motion and overall motion of your feet. Some of the exercises that help in improving flexibility are:
- Calf muscle stretch
- Knee highs
- Butt Kickers
Is gait analysis worth it?
If you are a newbie, then I feel gait analysis is totally worth it.
It determines how your foot rolls when you land and suggests the type of shoe you should be using.
The right pair of shoes is the most essential running gear and you must take the correct advise to select them.
The results can tell if you are making any mistake – slow cadence, longer stride, heel striking, wrong posture, lack of core strength.
These may lead to poor running efficiency and also be the reason behind the soreness of knee, ankles, and injury.
You can learn about the mistakes that you are making and try to correct them.
How long does a gait analysis take?
The gait analysis is a simple and very useful procedure.
It is very helpful for new runners.
Normally, it takes around 15 min for the complete test.
Many sports retail undertake this test free of cost!
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