What Is My Running Gait?
The term Running Gait is a term that new and experienced runners are becoming more familiar with and are beginning to realise how important it is to choose trainers that best match the way you run. Incorrect shoes for your gait can lead to a number of injuries from ankle pain to hip pain. These injuries are discussed in more detail in the injury section of fitFAQS
Your running gait, put simply, is the way in which you run. Imagine the way a car is set up. If the set up is incorrect or out of kilter, the tyres (your trainers) can wear unevenly and place stress on the axle (your legs).
By choosing the right shoes, you can redress the imbalance and greatly reduce the risk of contracting a "biomechanical" injury.
Running Gait Assessment
Having your running gait assessed before you begin training is essential.
With the help of specialised computer software and running gait specialists, your running pattern can be analysed and accurate advice can be offered as to which type of shoe you should choose. This procedure may seem like an expensive and inaccessible luxury but you would be wrong on both counts. This service is usually free and leaves you with peace of mind, knowing that that the shoes you use for your training are the right ones.
Stores up and down the UK offer this service but Runnersneed are perhaps the most reputable and well worth visiting to get your gait analysis spot on.
There are a number of running assessment systems available, some of which travel nationwide to make it easily accessible for runners all over the country. The assessment procedure is carried out by using a pressure pad or a treadmill for you to run on, to see where the foot impact is heaviest and how your feet land when you run. From this analysis, you will be advised with a great deal of accuracy if you are a "Pronator" "Neutral" or "Under Pronator."
It is estimated that that around 70% of runners over pronate.
As you'll see in the video below, Over pronators tend to land on the very outer edge of the heel and as the foot progresses through the movement, it rolls inwards causing the inner forefoot to take excessive pressure.
This places a larger amount of stress on the inside of the foot through the "mid stance" and "propulsion" stage of the running movement. Over a short period of time, this poses no problem to the runner who is likely to be unaware of any present or potential injury. However, over time this imbalance causes certain muscles to over work, leading to pain and inflammation in the ankles, shins, knees and hips.
Although gait analysis can easily pick over pronators, there is a less technical way to see if you are an over pronator. Simply take a look at a pair of sports shoes you have used for several months. If you notice excessive wear on the rear outer edge of your shoe and a significant indent on the insole where your big toe goes it is likely that you over pronate. Although you will not be able to change the way you run, potential injury caused by over pronating can be avoided by ensuring you have the correct shoes.
Oh, what it is to be perfect. Neutral runners, as the name suggests, run with a neutral gait, which is regarded to be the ideal running motion. Right through from the heel strike to foot propulsion, the foot maintains a balanced transition through the stride placing no undue stress on the lower leg muscles.
Runners who under pronate are rare. The gait cycle takes the foot from heel strike to propulsion on the outside of the foot. Under pronation, like over pronation, can cause a number of injuries which could severely hamper your training.
It is important that you get your stride analysed as soon as you can, so that if you need special shoe inserts (known as orthotics and prescribed by a podiatrist) to rebalance your running stride, you can use them right at the beginning of your training and greatly reduce your chances of contracting an injury. Don't be a statistic - get yourself checked out and analysed.
If you already know whether you are a oever pronator, neutral or under pronator and want to invest in a quality pair of running shoes, click here to see which shoes best suits your gait.
Soggy foot test
Before you get your feet and stride professionally analysed, why not have a look for yourself to see what kind of feet you have.
The purpose of the soggy foot test is to find out the structure of the soles of your feet. Depending on what you see, it can be a preliminary indicator of what type runner you are - over pronator, neutral or under pronator.
All you need to do is wet one of your feet and "walk it" on a surface that will show you an imprint - a brown piece of paper or even a tiled bathroom floor is ideal. The imprint left will tell you one of three things - whether you have sunken or low arches, neutral arches or high arches.
Low arches indicate that you are likely to be an over pronator, as there is little support to stop your food rolling inwards. Neutral arches indicate that your feet are ideal for running and high arches indicate that you could be an under pronator.
Over Pronator Neutral Under Pronator
The final point to make about trainers is that is it is vital that you do not decide to compete in the race with a new pair of running shoes. New trainers usually cause a little rubbing on the first few runs as they take time to mould to your feet, so don't be alarmed if you get a blister or two. Every year, people turn up at the start line with a new dazzling pair of shoes. They may win a prize for best dressed runner but come mile eighteen when the blisters on your feet grow to size of small water balloons, the accolade as best dressed runner no longer seems so attractive!