Can a Gait Analysis Improve How I Run?

Running is a very popular activity, with 40 million people running on a regular basis and 10 million people running at least 100 days or more annually. But whether you run to stay healthy or to compete in sports. there’s a high risk of injury — half of runners report injuries each year. 

How you run is based on your gait, the specific way you move your lower body when you’re in motion. Any injuries you experience could stem from how you move when you run, and an effective way to assess and minimize risk while running is through gait analysis. 

If you live in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area, and you want to minimize your likelihood for running injuries, Dr. Chris Clark and our team at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine can offer individualized, state-of-the-art methods to reduce injury and keep you going, including gait analysis. 

Let’s look at the common injuries you may encounter while running, what gait analysis is, and how the procedure works.

Common running injuries

Like any physical activity, running consists of repetitive motions. Such motions, over time, will lead to wearing and inflammation. Overuse of specific muscles and joints while in motion directly affects how frequently you get injured and how badly. People complaining of problems frequently experience:

  • Runner’s knee: a common overuse injury when your knee is out of alignment
  • Stress fracture: a small crack in the bone that typically affect your shins and feet
  • Shin splint: pain in your lower leg along your shin bone
  • Achilles tendinopathy: inflammation of your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to the back of your heel
  • Muscle strain: a small tear in your muscle resulting from overuse
  • Ankle sprain: stretching or tearing of ligaments around your ankle
  • Plantar fasciitis: inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, extending from your toes to your heel
  • IT (iliotibial) band syndrome: inflammation of your IT band, which runs along the outside of your thigh

How gait analysis works

Your gait is unique to you, from how long your stride is when walking to how you turn your foot when you run. If you’ve become accustomed to moving incorrectly when walking and running, you’re more likely to increase your risk of getting hurt without even realizing it. 

This method of analysis is designed to learn how you run and use that information to determine what you may be doing to increase your risk of injury. Gait analysis can even help determine the source of old injuries, which can help you avoid repeating the problem in the future.

In addition, videotaped gait analysis (VOGA) is also helpful in diagnosing children with gait disorders and adults with complex neuromuscular disorders.

The gait analysis process

This observational procedure (either direct observation, with video, or both) assesses body mechanics with the use of a treadmill. In this environment we observe foot placement, heel strike, hip, knee, and foot mechanics, arm swing, strength and flexibility, and shoe wear. 

Once we have the data from your analysis, we use that information to pinpoint the fundamental problems with your personal body mechanics while moving. 

From there we provide you with tools to improve your gait, including strength and flexibility exercises, customized conditioning plans, and training plans to target improvements in key areas of your walking and running.

Most people don’t think about how they walk and run, but knowing the subtle things you do without realizing they could injure you, can help you improve your form and routine. If you’re interested in a gait analysis, call our office or book an appointment online with Dr. Clark and Premier Spine and Sports Medicine today.

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