Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Running Gait Analysis

I am occasionally asked about my running analysis service: what it is, what I look at, how it's done, where, cost, etc.  So, I thought I would use this outlet to summarize the service, give a little background, and share part of my approach or philosophy.

Each session starts with the runner completing a questionnaire covering basic information: goals related to running and the analysis, running history, injuries, etc.  After I review that, I ask questions to clarify their responses or probe deeper.

Next, I look at their feet.  Also, if appropriate, I may look at their knees, hips, etc if they have a previous injury or if something looks out of the ordinary.  I also look at their shoes and inserts, if they have them.  Then, I do some quick functional strength and flexibility tests.  These are mostly on one leg to mimic components of running gait.

This screening continues as I have the runner walk on the treadmill barefoot as I video record them.  I do this to see the feet in motion.  Of course, I cannot see how the feet move in shoes.  However, I would not want a runner to run barefoot unless that was the norm for them.  Much of the information obtained up to this point is used to guide my focus during the treadmill running.

Then, the runner finally gets to run (shod) on the treadmill as I record with high speed video.  I usually take views from behind and the side.  On occasion I will view from the front as well.  I take several shots each with a different purpose, looking at the entire body, hips, knees, or feet.  This usually takes less than fifteen minutes.  The first several minutes I am not recording.  The runner is finding their pace, getting comfortable on the treadmill, forgetting about me watching them.  I will also measure their run cadence during this time.

Runners on occasion have stated that they run differently on the treadmill than they do outside.  This is true.  Some differences do occur, but they are inconsistent between people and generally not very significant for someone who is comfortable running on the treadmill.  Thus, the analysis is valid.

After I collect the video and quickly upload it to my computer, I view the footage, going through my checklist and making notes.  Then, I summarize what I see and make recommendations.  I give advice regarding strengthening, flexibility, shoes and orthotics, running mechanics related to injury prevention and running efficiency or performance.  I always email a summary to the runner too, so they do not have to remember everything from our meeting.  The entire session usually takes about one hour.  After the runner has had time to implement the changes I recommend for several weeks, a follow up appointment, recording more video can be helpful.

Running analysis can be valuable for a variety of runners.  It can help novice runners begin their running career safely and efficiently, building a base with good habits.  It can help identify the source of frequent or recurrent injuries.  It may also allow a runner to take their training to the next level or push through a plateau in progress.

I meet runners by appointment at the Quincy University Fitness Center.  However, I can do it nearly anywhere with access to a club-quality treadmill.  The current cost is $45 per session.  You can schedule an appointment by contacting me at or 217.316.2799 (voice or text.)

Full disclosure: I provide this service as a NuFit For You trainer/coach.