Gait Analysis

Food for thought?

19 messages
14/10/2009 at 09:24

Am I alone in my thoughts on this?  If so, I'm willing to be shouted down and have my opinions changed.  Anyway, does anyone else think that gait analysis by the person who works in the shop is akin to financial analysis by the person who works for the bank?  At the end of the day they are there to sell you their products.  Their livelihood depends upon it.  I'm not saying the advice isn't good, but it is biased.
I'm constantly surprised by the number of people I hear/read from who bought the same trainer after gait analysis - didn't the last one correct anything?  It seems that the choice was pre-empted, regardless of the analysis performed.  Also surprised by the number of people who will change shoes, develop a niggle or injury, then refuse to blame the shoes because gait analysis was performed.
I've had gait and tread analysis performed by a podiatrist who cut me insoles and told me that with their help, my pronation would correct itself.  Follow-ups were free.  I'm now a neutral runner in non-support shoes.  He didn't sell me shoes, but recommended the models I might wish to try.  I count that as independant advice.

I'd love to read people's thoughts on this.

14/10/2009 at 09:32
And you no longer wear corrective insoles in your shoes?
14/10/2009 at 10:09
I no longer wear corrective insoles.  Not even a heel pad, but then I don't put my heel down so much anymore...
14/10/2009 at 11:03

I thought as much.

I responded to a post in Injury, where someone asked about being able to correct a gait issue etc.

Shoes have become big business these days, they have correction built in to allow a complete numpty to run any distance they choose but with incorrect running form. If they received proper training/coaching then they would be able to run in neutral shoes or barefoot for any distance.

14/10/2009 at 11:43

Ratzer - I presume your podiatrist charged you for the service?  Why are you concerned that someone in a shop will try to sell you shoes? If they have a wide selection and sell you a pair that are suitable for your particular style, what's the issue?  I've never been recommended a pair of running shoes that caused new problems and when old niggles return, I know it's time to get new trainers.

The difference between getting advice from a bank and from a shoe shop is independence: banks can only advise you to buy their products (or products from firms they are in partnership with) where as most specialist runners shops will stock trainers from a wide selection of manufacturers and can therefore recommend what's best for the customer. 

14/10/2009 at 12:33
I'm not sure about the level of expertise they have in the shops to advise you correctly but I guess its a learning curve. They knew more than me when I went to choose, I may well know enough to choose my own in the future. FWIW, I actually swapped my first shoes (for free) after 200 miles because they had worn terribly on the heel. I'm much happier in the different shoes they recommeded this time. As for biased I would disagree, dependant on the markup they have I was advised on a number of shoes and certainly wasnt pushed to get the most expensive.
14/10/2009 at 13:47

As a running shop owner, I can give you our perspective. Yes, we want to sell you a shoe, but no, I don't think that we are biased. The whole point of gait analysis is to make sure the customer goes away with the correct shoe for their particular footstrike. I'm not fussed which brand or style of shoe the customer goes away with, as long as they have the right shoe for their biomechanics.

I don't try and push people into buying the most expensive shoe, I will let them try a selection that are suitable and let them make up their own mind. If there is a price difference, I will explain the differences in technology and let them decide.

14/10/2009 at 13:49

AllNewTB, the podiatrist charged, but luckily for me he charged the insurance company.    I think my point there is that the podiatrist sells his services.  The shoe shop offers gait analysis as a sales tool for their products (no matter who makes the products the shoe store wants you in there to buy them).  An IFA tells you what's best for your finances, the bank FA uses his assessment as an opportunity to find a hole in your portfolio that he can fill.
About three years ago only Run and Become in my area would perform gait analysis, and then by checking your running style visually.  Along came video gait analysis, and I've even seen an advert touting it as far superior to eye-only analysis (aimed straight at Run and Become).  As I've run more I've become aware of a couple of issues with the video gait analysis.  It's done on a treadmill, and it's done wearing shoes.  You don't run naturally on a treadmill, and, as Gazmanmeister alluded to, the test finds the shoe that compensates for your gait deficiencies.  It's not done by podiatrists or other biomechanists.  It's done by the salesperson.

I like good running shops because the sales people run.  But are we just being drawn in by gait analysis?

14/10/2009 at 13:54

I crossed post with you there, sensible.  Thanks for that perspective!

As a serious runner, though, do you think you are providing a crutch for poor gait sometimes, or a true fit for a particular running style?

Ps. I'm not a pose or chi or anything like that runner, but since gait correction I've experienced far fewer problems than in my early athletic years, so I may just be biased against support shoes?

14/10/2009 at 13:55

Ratzer - my husband trained as a personal trainer and sports injury therapist, he knows a little bit about running injuries and biomechanics (he also studied anatomy and what-not as part of his sports pyschology degree). He told me I over-pronate and a couple of other things about my dodgy left ankle that were affecting my running.  The very nice folk in Runners Needs, who use video gail analysis, told me the same thing, so I'm not in any doubt video analysis is ideal.  Runners Needs usually start by looking at how you run bare-foot too. 

14/10/2009 at 14:15

AllnewTB - I think you're missing the point, please bear with me and I'll give you an analagy.

A golfer, who can hit the ball consistently with his unorthodox swing but the ball will not go straight.
What does he do, have lessons to correct this problem - No
The golfer buys new clubs, these clubs are manufactured to correct the problem, to make the ball fly straight.
Great, he hits it straight each and every time but his swing is still unorthodox

It's the same for runners who want to take up running, it's been 20 years since they did any exercise and they have forgotten how to run but they think they still know how.
So what do they do instead of questioning their running ability and seeking training, they opt for a fix with a shoe thats manufactured to resolve their shortfall in running technique.

I'm not tryng to be rude or dismissive, just providing you with an example.

14/10/2009 at 15:49

Ratzer

Dont think you are alone.  Shoe shops sell shooes.  In order to facilitate the sale a gait analysis is done.  They are not selling a service, they are selling a product. Podiatrist are selling a service which relies on kowledge.

I think many people on here think they are getting something akin to a medical diagnosis.  I dont think this is the shops' fault, I think runners often forget they are being served by a shop assistant (or shop owner) in a shop. 

I have never come across bias in running shops  e.g. try to steer me toward expensive shoes.  The shops have done their best.

Part of the problem for shops is that they cant really compete with the internet on price. So gait analysis might be necessary to justify higher price.  However that is more important for first time buyers than for regular customers.

I do wish shops would be more inventive for repeat customers. For instance for a shoe I like I will buy several pairs at once - I dont need gait anaysis but shops dont seem to think in terms of discounts for say buying 4 pairs.  Easy for me to do that on the internet

14/10/2009 at 15:59

Point well put Bos.

Last time I went to a running shop I was presented with all manufacturers shoes available for my gait, the choice of shoe was personal to me, not pressurised by the sales person at all.

14/10/2009 at 16:05

I'm slightly sceptical about the quality of gait analysis (especially when simply running over a pad) - I've nothing to base this on, but it does seem a bit perfunctory. However, it has always consistently told me the same thing, which is what I had already thought from reading about it, doing the footprint test, looking at my tread wear etc.

I don't think trainers are sold as being corrective as in curing a problem gait, but are sold as helping to correct it whilst you are running so that you don't injure yourself.

I do however fail to see the main argument that you are making. The running shop sell a variety of different models, from a variety of different suppliers, in a variety of different shoe types. Presumably they make a profit on all of these, so if my gait analysis shows I need a support shoe, I can try on a range of support shoes & choose the one I think is best. Similarly I could do the same if I came out neutral - the shop would make a profit either way. I have never had my gait analysed and only been offered one shoe - always a range of models of different makes and price.

14/10/2009 at 16:07

There's gait analysis, and gait analysis.

I've had both types - one by a friendly guy wearing a t-shirt with 'Motion Analyst' on it, in a well-known chain of running shops...

and one from a biomechanist with no interest in selling me shoos but explaining what was going on at my subtalar joint.

You can guess which was the best.

I'd guess most people with no idea about biomechanics could choose themselves a shoe based on comfort for running anyway, and in the absence of trained staff.

14/10/2009 at 16:07
Hmm, surely going into the shop in the first place is a sign you want to buy shoes?  I think providing the gait anaysis service can justify slightly higher prices.  I tried to self diagnose my gait and got it horrendously wrong, wasted about £70 on shoes and still get pain in my hip from the injury i gave myself.  The gait analysis i was given was brilliant and ive had no problems with the shoes, i picked the shoes that suited me best from a wide variety she let me try on, they ranged in price from cheap to £79 (sods law i prefered the more expensive pair!).  The sales assistant is an experienced triathlete so i valued her opinion, plus viewing my video it was horrendously obvious i was an overpronator.  I think the advice was independant in the sense that i wasnt pushed towards one brand, i stated i wanted to buy running shoes and thats what she helped me do.
14/10/2009 at 16:31

Lots of points well made.  To try to clarify my point for EC, and maybe others, given the choice between a store with gait analysis, and a store without, both with experienced running staff, where would you go and why?  Take into account, as is mentioned here a couple of times, that the stores offering gait analysis seem to have higher prices on their shoes.
What I'm not saying is that Nike, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, etc. are promoting gait analysis to get you to buy their shoe.
If you want gait analysis, would you go to a shoe shop to get it done?  Your bank can offer you cheap house insurance, but is it really what you need?

The gait analysis is perfunctory IMO.  Wrong surface, not long enough for you to tire or even, physiologically, to get into your stride.  Not stretched, not warm.  But, the many people seem satisfied with the results.  Perhaps the quick and dirty test is good enough for 80%.  I would rather test the shoes for 40-50 miles - then I'd really be willing to pay the extra!  That's why I don't buy shoes off the interweb.

14/10/2009 at 20:01

Gait analysis is not the be all and end all, it isn't foolproof and it doesn't provide all the answers. I do feel however, that it is a useful guide and will give a reasonable indication of what the feet are naturally trying to do. I will always ask the customer if they have run much on treadmills before, because if they haven't then the results will be less reliable.

I will sell them the shoe that suits their running style, whether that is neutral, over-pronating, under-pronating, forefoot running, pose, chi or whatever. A shoe will only change things to a certain extent, if there is still a fundamental issue with regards to someones biomechanics then I will refer them to a physio. I take great pride in the fact that numerous physios in my area recommend people to me for their footwear.

Ratzer - If people want to correct their gait, I will help them as best I can, but the majority simply want a shoe that will help them run injury free. The best analogy I can give is that a sprinter will spend large amounts of time refining their technique to make it as efficient as possible, because fractions of a second can make a difference between winning and finishing nowhere. Distance runners in general tend not to have the time/inclination to do the same so simply put their feet in a different pair of shoes and hope that will sort the issue.

Bos1 - If you want to buy 4 pairs of shoes in one go, please come and visit my shop!!!

14/10/2009 at 20:13
sensible wrote (see)

Distance runners in general tend not to have the time/inclination to do the same so simply put their feet in a different pair of shoes and hope that will sort the issue.

I see a lot of runners as patients who've been through quite a few pairs of shoes (and cash) in the desperate hope of fixing their injuries too. One chap came in last week with 3 pairs of shoes in his rucsack, all bought in the last 3 months... no idea what 'advice' he'd been given but it should have been to see a fizz rather than buy the new asics model.

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