Analyze This: A Runners Missing Link
Post By: Laura Gold, PT, DPT
You’re a runner, and you’ve got pain. Not a little post workout soreness or the occasional ache, but pain that won’t go away. Or maybe it’s that annoying problem that keeps moving around – first it was the Achilles, then runner’s knee, IT band, plantar fasciitis… one injury improves just to make room for another. And you’ve done it all. NSAIDs. Stretches. Injections. Massage. Foam Rolling. Exercises. Maybe you’ve even considered (or had) surgery. Yet the problem persists. Your friends, family, co-workers, and perhaps, even your medical professionals are telling you to hang up your running shoes. You’re starting to wonder if they’re right.
BUT WAIT! (Says the physical therapist and like-minded “crazy” runner). One more thing to consider that may be the missing piece is gait analysis. A recent article in the New York Times touts the benefits of having a professional analyze the way you are running to determine the source of your injuries (Check out the article: Click here). Coupled with a corrective program that helps you make the necessary changes to your running form, gait analysis also goes a long way to improve performance (Read: run faster!).
- Usually involves having someone film you while running, although an experienced therapist can pick up relevant information with the naked eye, too. Inexpensive technology such as smartphone and tablet applications allow for analysis and playback of video that helps us to show you what we see when you’re running.
- High tech analysis makes use of various technology such as movement sensors (attached to your body) and force plates. These tools give us more data, but come at a price ($$$).
- Gait analysis often occurs on a treadmill, but can be performed over ground as well. Although the evidence as to how variable running form is between these, you should make sure that your professional at least observes you on the surface on which you typically run. Ideally, they’ll look at both!
- A gait analysis without corrective action is useless – it’s good for you to understand what steps you can take to improve your stride efficiency and minimize injurious forces. A good gait analysis usually includes a follow-up to make sure that you are able to incorporate the recommended corrective program and form modifications.
- A note about corrective exercises: it is VITAL that the corrective exercises given to you are functional. It’s fine to start by lying on a table and activating your glutes, but you must be progressed to the point where the newly strengthened muscles are doing their job with your feet on the ground, and ultimately, when you are running!