Gait analysis: is it for me?

Many running retailers and sports injury clinics now offer some form of gait analysis. This assessment of your running “style” or “technique” can take many forms and can range from someone watching you run down a corridor to the Run3D three-dimensional science and research based assessment we offer at Holly House Hospital.

The information gathered during these assessments is used to identify movement patterns, restrictions and weaknesses that may predispose you to injury and, to help shoe retailers and running injury specialist identify strategies, (footwear in the case of the former and, therapeutic intervention in the case of the latter) which will reduce your chances of injury in the pursuit of your running goals.

At first glance this seems simple but the truth of the matter is that there are many variables other than biomechanics that can lead to injury. Take, for instance training load, (the amount of running you do). We know that irrespective of your biomechanics, sudden increases in running volume, intensity or frequency, (or all three) significantly raise the likelihood that you will get crocked, which is why good coaching advice and monitoring of your recovery is so important. Similarly, nutrition and hydration have a huge influence on performance and recovery and need to be well managed if you are to remain injury free.

To further cloud the picture, there is an increasing amount of good quality research that has challenged some of our “models” of biomechanically induced running injury. Only in June this year, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggested that the beelzebub of running biomechanics, the “Moderate Over-Pronator” may be less likely to get injured if running in a neutral shoe.

The interpretation of information gathered during a gait analysis is where the skill lies and this skill is directly related to the experience of the person interpreting the information. The data we collect at Run 3D Holly House is measured against the world’s largest database of 3D running biomechanics and our team’s decades of experience of all types of running and all levels of runner. We always combine gait analysis with an in-depth discussion of all aspects of your training as it is the load you apply to the body you have that we need to monitor and adjust to keep you running.

The value of gait analysis in my view, is as part of an overall assessment of you as a runner including discussion of your running background, training, background and goals.

Noel Thatcher bio