How Gait Analysis Can Improve Running Performance: Top Techniques for Athletes

How Gait Analysis Can Improve Running Performance: Top Techniques for Athletes | HealthSoul

This article aims to inform fitness enthusiasts, coaches, and athletes about the value of gait analysis in enhancing running performance. By using gait analysis techniques, athletes can improve their running efficiency and reduce the risk of injuries. At its core, gait is the pattern by which a person walks.  It is slightly distinctive to each individual — Why? Because there are 7 subsets, or types of gaits, that partly define this personal characteristic. Sometimes an injury, or an underlying cause, or a genetic predisposition can be responsible for a person’s gait. 

Common challenges faced by runners

Injuries, inefficiencies, and performance plateaus are common challenges faced by runners. 

Common Challenges Faced by Runners:

  • Injuries  – e.g., runner’s knee, shin splints, plantar fasciitis. Estimated percentage of cases: 60%.
  • Inefficiencies in running form  – e.g., poor posture, over striding, low cadence. Estimated percentage of cases: 20%.
  • Plateaus in running performance  – e.g., not improving pace or endurance despite training. Estimated percentage of cases: 10%.
  • Fatigue and overtraining  – estimated percentage of cases: 5%. 
  • Lack of incentive or mental obstacles – estimated 5% of cases.

What is running gait analysis?

Running mechanics are examined through the technique of running gait analysis in order to spot any inefficiencies or imbalances. The whole practice entails a close and very detailed focus inspection of a person’s stride, foot placement, and body alignment of the athlete. Gait specialists and folks with certification in the field can make suggestions for enhancing running performance by examining these parameters.

History of Running Gait Analysis

The first real studies on the biomechanics of human movement were conducted in the early 20th century — this is basically when gait analysis first became popular. The main focus of these early studies was on the fundamental mechanics, the inner workings, of walking and running –  nevertheless, it wasn’t until the 1960s that researchers started to delve more deeply into the subtleties of running gait.

One of the greatest pioneers of modern running gait analysis is Dr. Benno Nigg, (inside the Gait Guru membership, Gait Happens has an exclusive interview with Dr. Nigg) a biomechanics professor at the University of Calgary. In the early 1980s, he developed and wrote a comprehensive guidebook for analyzing a runner’s gait. This manual includes determining a runner’s stride length, foot strike, and joint angles, among other key aspects of their movement. 

The “Calgary Running Analysis Program”, as the technique and study were called, was one of the first systems of its sort, and it opened the way for the development of modern gait analysis techniques.

Because of the efforts of researchers and clinicians who have developed new tools and techniques for evaluating and improving running form, running gait analysis has changed over time. Gait analysis is now a crucial tool for runners of all abilities, from weekend warriors to top competitions, as it enables them to spot and fix asymmetries, inefficiencies, and movement patterns that are prone to injury. These factors can impair performance and result in injuries.

How do gait specialists conduct a running gait analysis?

Gait analysts first gather information regarding a runner’s running form, which may include video footage, pressure sensor readings, and a physical assessment. To find any imbalances or inefficiencies in the athlete’s running mechanics, this data is evaluated. Gait specialists, or professionals with certifications in this field, might make suggestions for enhancing the athlete’s running performance in light of the results.

Top techniques for improving running performance

Athletes, as well as all manner of individuals, can employ a variety of strategies to enhance their running efficiency, including:

Training for running gait analysis

Through specialist and very detailed training programs, athletes can learn proper running form. 

These programs can educate athletes on how to run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuries – how to optimize their performance. 

Addressing common gait issues

Gait specialists can help athletes address common issues such as overpronation, underpronation, heel striking, and forefoot striking.

Asymmetry and compensation patterns

Gait specialists can identify any asymmetries or compensation patterns in an athlete’s running form and provide recommendations on how to correct them.

Enhancing running efficiency

Specialists in this field can provide detailed recommendations on how to improve running efficiency by adjusting a person’s cadence and stride length and improving posture and core stability.

What are the benefits of running gait analysis?

Running gait analysis offers a smorgasbord of benefits for athletes, including improved running efficiency, reduced risk of injuries, and better overall performance. By identifying inefficiencies and imbalances in an athlete’s running form, gait specialists can provide personalized recommendations to improve their running mechanics. Athletes are encouraged to consult with gait specialists for personalized guidance on how to optimize their running performance.