Video Gait Analysis for Runners
Being a runner is something to be proud of — for many reasons.
Running is a fantastic form of exercise for strengthening muscles, maintaining a healthy body mass index, and supporting cardiovascular well-being throughout life. It can reduce stress, improve sleep, keep your mind sharp, and even yield benefits for your emotional health.
But if your gait is off, you may not be supporting your body properly with each step. As your feet repeatedly hit the ground (about 1,480 times for every mile you run), problems with your gait can lead to pain and injury in different body parts, especially your hips, feet, knees, or back.
If you decide to “run through the pain,” you’re more likely to experience serious injuries. Ongoing joint pain or an injury to one leg can derail your exercise routine and, if left untreated, put at risk your ability to walk and run later in life. That’s why it's important to improve your gait and obtain a form that lets you hold onto all the benefits of running and helps to keep its potential setbacks out of your life.
Using video gait analysis, our physical therapists can assess your range of motion when running and walking and then work with you to improve your gait pattern. By observing your gait during simple activities like walking on a treadmill, stepping over objects, and standing on one leg, our therapists can identify issues and develop an exercise program that helps you live your life as an injury-free runner. Contact us today for your analysis!
How Gait Training Can Benefit Runners
For those who train regularly and who push their body to its limits, like competitive athletes and marathoners, gait rehabilitation and gait training exercises can make an incredible difference in performance, speed, and the enjoyment of being a decades-long runner. A running lifestyle has been shown to reduce risk of stroke, improve cognitive function, and increase mobility and balance in old age.
Studies show that retraining your gait and using gait exercises can improve muscle memory and prevent common runner's injuries such as runner's knee and stress fractures. Gait training exercises with a physical therapist can result in improvements in running efficiency, balance, and mobility. This can help to prevent injury to the musculoskeletal system and extend your ability to run well throughout your life.
How to Improve Your Gait with Running Analysis
Any experienced doctor or physical therapist will tell you that it isn't running itself that can injure your feet, legs, and hips; it's the way you run. A person might take too big of a stride and, as a result, land unbalanced. When you consider the fact that most runners take well over 1,000 steps per mile, you can understand how even a slightly skewed gait can become a problem.
It's important to realize you might not even know you’re running or walking with an abnormal movement. It’s common to assume that runner's injuries such as shin splints, hamstring injuries, and patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee) are the norm.
The truth is, they don’t have to be. With gait training physical therapy at JAG PT, they are entirely preventable.
The Gait Rehabilitation Process
Gait rehabilitation starts with gait analysis. During the analysis, runners are filmed on a treadmill for about 20 to 30 minutes. The film reveals how you run, how your foot lands on the ground, and whether your movements provide sufficient body weight support. We'll also look at your balance through simple activities such as standing on one leg or stepping over objects.
Then, your physical therapist will recommend gait training exercises and other specific exercises to strengthen your core muscles and improve balance. These may include exercise activities to improve ankle dorsiflexion (flexibility) and to ensure you use the correct range of motion with each stride.
The focus is on repetitions and exercise programs that train your legs and feet to optimize your movements when running and walking. A lot of people assume injury prevention and running efficiency are all about muscle strength. That's partially true, but the data shows a bigger picture.
The way you move determines how much excessive force is put on your limbs. This is why physical therapy considers muscle memory and balance as important as strength and flexibility.
Getting Started with Gait Training Exercises
With physical therapy, you can set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy running. Gait training addresses the reasons why an abnormal movement leads to injury. It looks at your ability to walk and run on any surface, like pavement, trails, or rubber track, and provides the specific exercises you need to improve your gait. The initial appointment takes one to two hours and may include follow-up appointments.
It starts with a professional analysis session. After your gait analysis, the specialists at JAG Physical Therapy will provide you an initial diagnosis based on what they see. You'll then talk about physical therapy exercises you can do at home and actions you can take to retrain your gait.
Get Video Gait Analysis with JAG Physical Therapy
JAG Physical Therapy proudly offers Gait Analysis to runners throughout the Tri-State area. Whether you want to prevent injuries, improve your running performance, or simply benefit from the joy of running for years to come, we're here to help with professional gait training. Be sure to watch our Running Preparation Series as well to learn how to avoid injuries while running long distances.