Gait Analysis – The secret weapon to supercharge your running!
Ever wondered what gait analysis entails or how it could benefit your running? Julie Buckley is a runner who has been working hard this year to achieve running targets. This month she came in for a gait analysis session to see if she could make any improvements in her running style. Here is here write up:
” A couple of years ago I took a huge step, taking to a treadmill for the first time. I wanted to learn how to run, so off I went. Mainly walking; with increasing seconds of running, my goal was to be able to run for 15 minutes without stopping. Once I had done that, I felt brave enough to try running outside.
Fast forward to today and I have a couple of half marathon medals hanging on my shelf and I’m a member of Kimberley and District Striders, the local running club. When I went to buy my latest pair of trainers the shop assistant gave me a form of gait analysis to help me choose the right trainers. My feet were filmed as I ran on a treadmill and I was deemed to be ‘neutral’. Trainers for neutral runners were shown to me and I left somewhat bewildered.
I later met Kerstine through the running club and was intrigued to see that one of the services she offered at her physiotherapy clinic was gait analysis. I asked a couple of other club members what they thought of gait analysis and they sang its praises. After a look at the KHPhysiotherapy website, I soon realised that gait analysis was about much more than buying trainers, so I booked an appointment.
I’ll admit to being a bit nervous on the day as I had no idea what to expect, but Kerstine talked me through the process and put me at ease. We started with a chat about my running history, injuries (luckily none to date) and goals. Then it was time to for a few squats and exercises to test my range of movement and areas of strength and weakness.
On the treadmill I did a short run at a nice, easy pace while Kerstine filmed me from the back and the side. The revelations came next when we sat down and went through the footage. I knew I used to run a little hunched over as I would ache across my upper back after a run, I named it my shuffling old lady style. Over the last six months I’ve tried to run in a more upright position, imagining a helium balloon attached to my head. The back ache has gone, so I was shocked to see how hunched over I still was.
Kerstine talked me through what my body was doing as I ran, and how I was effectively braking and slowing myself down with each stride. This was not only causing me to use more energy in my legs than I need to, it was also having a knock-on effect on my hips which were rolling from side to side – again using up unnecessary energy.
Back on the treadmill, only this time as I ran Kerstine recommended small changes I could make which would alter my running style to make it more efficient. We concentrated on three main areas, so I could remember them and implement them on my runs. Once I was able to do all three things together, the camera rolled again so I could see the difference. I didn’t need to see it though, I could already feel it and hear it as my steps on the treadmill changed from thuds to much lighter taps.
We reviewed the footage and this time I shocked at how, in just a few short minutes, I had gone from a hunched over plodder to the light-footedness I see faster runners manage with ease. Kerstine then talked me through a few exercises to target areas of weakness she’d identified, and I left feeling amazing. Not only did I have a toolkit of tips and exercises to enable me to improve my running style over the next few months, but the session also gave me confidence. Being self-taught the only thing I knew about running was to put one foot in front of the other, so I was never sure if I was doing it ‘right’ or if I might be causing myself a possible injury. For less than the price of the trainers I bought, I’ve now got life-long skills I can use over the years to reach my running goals”.