I want to become a better runner.
Not a faster runner, but a better runner.
If you’re just joining me, hop on over to part 1 of this series on gait analysis.
The first thing Christine had me do was hop on the treadmill and spend a couple minutes getting warmed up at a walking pace while she set up the cameras. Once I felt ready, she asked me to bring my pace up to a comfortable jog – I was also given the option of having her analyze multiple speeds, but I really only have one speed… and that’s slow, so I only had her record me at one speed.
For the record, on the treadmill, it was a 12:00mm pace, or 5mph.
I spent a couple minutes jogging on the treadmill (and couldn’t help but instantly hate it because the treadmill is THE WORST) while Christine filmed me from the back and side, and then moved the rear camera over to focus on my feet. After another minute or two, she had me hop off the treadmill and we started looking at the video footage together.
We determined that my upper body posture is fine, so we didn’t spend time looking at that. Instead, we focused on my hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
At the weakest point of my stride (which is when your body is basically fully compressed on a step, kind of like an accordion that has been squashed closed), we confirmed that I’m a heel striker and that both feet over-pronate.
Pronation happens when your foot rolls inward and flattens out the arch. Some people pronate more than others. Other people supinate, which means their foot rolls toward the outer edge of the foot.
I pronate, and mine happens to be fairly light. However, I got fitted for shoes this summer and now wear shoes with light stability control (I wear Asics GT-2000s) to combat over-pronation. In the photo above (a screenshot from the videos I had loaded up onto a flash drive to take with me), you can see that my foot has flattened out the arch a little bit.
I brought an old pair of Nikes that I ran in before I switched to Asics, purely for show-and-tell, and Christine observed that there weren’t any outrageous wear patterns to be concerned about. We just confirmed that the heels have worn down due to my heel-striking.
Heel striking has a tendency to put unnecessary stress on the joints, because landing on that part of the foot means that your body is absorbing shock less effectively. Think about when you jump rope – do you land on the balls of your feet, or on your heels? How would it feel if you landed on your heels every time?
Like shit, probably. And that’s what I’m doing to my body when I run. Whoops.
A side-effect of heel-striking is over-striding. This is when your legs extend out beyond your core during your stride, and this forces your legs to work harder to PULL your body forward, as opposed to PUSHING it forward. I’ve observed that this tends to affect my quads, hamstrings, and glutes – very rarely do I feel fatigue in my calves when I run. My quads, hamstrings, and glutes are being forced to work harder to pull my body along, which in turn is tugging on the fascia around my hip joints… which is why I experience hip pain.
We also determined that my hips drop a little, my knees knock in bit, and the reason my feet “flick” as I bring them forward is because I rotate my hips to bring my legs around instead of swinging them straight forward.
OK. So… there’s that.
It seems like a lot, but Christine assured me that I’m not doing anything grievously wrong, and that everything I’m doing can be fixed.
Then out came the tools…
Thanks for reading part 2 of my gait analysis experience. Stay tuned for part 3, going live on December 2nd.
All images of me are screen shots from the video clips I acquired from my appointment. I added the yellow lines for reference, based on what I learned at my appointment. I am not a health professional – please reach out to your doctor or physical therapist for information about gait.