A gait analysis can identify muscle imbalances and poor biomechanics. By identifying these issues, you’ll be on your way to pain-free running.
I’ve had an influx of gait analysis requests lately. It makes sense: the rigors of summer training are starting to wear down our bodies which of course makes us anxious and think we need help. But not everyone needs a gait analysis — even if we do feel tired and worn down.
Today I’m sharing some informational tidbits on when you might consider a gait analysis and what to expect when you get one.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Gait Analysis
Disclaimer: While I’m a certified running coach and personal trainer, I am not a physical therapist or sports medicine physician. This post is for entertainment purposes only. As always, if you are feeling pain or discomfort, seek the advice of a medical professional.
Do I Need a Gait Analysis?
If you’re prone to injuries such as stress reactions and unrelenting iliotibial band syndrome, you might be a good candidate for a gait analysis. A gait analysis will identify things like muscle imbalances and poor biomechanics, which can result in repeated injuries. The goal is to find those issues and fix them or make adjustments to avoid future injuries.
What Should I Expect at a Gait Analysis?
First, the professional analyzing your gait — usually a physical therapist, running coach, or a personal trainer — will perform a variety of assessments to observe your movement pattern and potential areas of weakness and overactivity. You’ll perform exercises like squats and single leg squats. Your trainer may also push on your legs to assess your strength, among other assessments.
After a series of assessments, you’ll walk on a treadmill. The observer will watch you walk from all sides and after a sufficient warm-up, you’ll begin the run. During the run portion of the analysis, the trainer will first observe your movement patterns. After the initial observation, she’ll then record videos from all angles. This is to ensure all movement patterns can be observed and reviewed at a later date. Your cadence (steps per minute) will likely be counted as well.
Reviewing the Videos and Receiving Exercises
After you’ve completed the assessments and the gait analysis, you’ll review the video with your trainer. At this point, she’ll show you what she was seeing and point out the areas to improve. Points of interest include your foot-strike and stride length, hip and shoulder movement, and arm swing. If your trainer notices a weakness or imbalance, she’ll recommend some exercises to help you strengthen those areas. These exercises may seem inconsequential but trust me, they can have a huge impact on overall strength and agility. I’ll give you a hint: areas of weakness are almost always the hips and glutes. Think bridge, clamshells, and leg lifts to name a few exercises that have a big impact on running strength and stability.
Gait Analysis Costs
A gait analysis can run the gamut when it comes to cost. Some doctors and/or hospitals offer a gait analysis in their clinics and insurance will cover the cost. Oftentimes, however, you’ll have to seek out a private practice professional. In this case, an analysis can cost anywhere from $50 to $250.
Some sporting good stores offer a free gait analysis as part of their selling tools. While this is a good tool to find out if you pronate or supinate, an analysis at a store is not nearly as comprehensive as an analysis done by a professional. Running store analyses usually focus on pronation and supination and not much else. If you’re needing a true analysis, I highly recommend seeking out a running coach, personal trainer, or physical therapist’s services.
If you’re chronically injured, don’t let the idea of a gait analysis overwhelm you. Now that you know what to expect, start seeking out professionals in your area who can help you.
Not interested in a gait analysis but wanting to improve your running form? Try this: Looking for Good Running Form? Here’s How to Fix It.
Have you had a gait analysis done?
Did you find it to be helpful?