Injury prevention and your running gait
Gait - it's a term tossed around in the running world quite often. From the plethora of articles and videos online to shoe manufacturers and your local barista, everyone has opinions on the ideal running gait. Knowing who to listen to and what exactly to do to can be incredibly overwhelming - but it doesn't have to be.
Let's start from the beginning- what is a running gait? In the simplest form, gait is a manner of running, stepping or walking. In a running context, your running gait is the way you run. There are many elements or phases in what we like to call your gait cycle. The two main phases are the stance phase, and the swing phase. Now we can get into even more detail by further breaking gait down into eight additional phases including the early swing, mid swing and late swing phases - all of which contain many biomechanical factors of their own.
Why is this important? Understanding your gait reduces running related injuries and maximizes your efficiency as a runner. Unfortunately analyzing your running gait involves more than just looking down at our feet, or wearing a specific running shoe. A common question we hear when discussing gait with our patients regards the foot strike - should it be with the heel, the mid foot, or the forefoot? The truth is foot strike, like many other factors in your running gait - can differ from person to person. We all have our own natural gait, and what works best for your running partner might not be ideal for you. Think of it like your own little running fingerprint.
At TRP we use a "Three Cornerstones" system to assess you. First we look at movement preferences - things like your current joint range of motion and key muscle group strength. Then, we look at how those preferences present themselves in your running gait. Lastly, we look at external factors - things like shoe wear, running frequency, and terrain and link those factors back to your gait and movement preferences. Looking at the whole picture with this system allows us to improve your gait by linking it with specific exercises and movement patterns that address specific deficits or weak links in the chain. Once we've identified the patterns and addressed or tweaked them, we reintegrate them back into the gait.
We truly believe at TRP, that a rehabilitation provider who is not a runner should never treat runners. Understanding your gait shouldn't be daunting. Let us remove the guesswork and help set you on the right path to help smash all your running goals in 2017.
To learn more about the various biomechanical gait analysis options available at TRP, click here.