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Gait Analysis – How to Run Faster?

Have you ever wondered if you are running efficiently? Could you run faster just by changing your form a bit? Do you have a reoccurring injury and just can’t seem to explain it?

I was a bit curious of these questions and on Saturday I visited a Koala Health & Wellness Center and had a gait analysis performed. This basically consisted of running on a treadmill at a moderate pace while two cameras (one at my side and one behind me) recorded my every stride.

We then sat and went through the footage in slow motion addressing my running form from head to feet.

What did I learn?

Surprisingly, most of my running form looked fairly good and textbook. Boring! I guess that is kind of nice to hear but I was looking for some drama. What is wrong with me? Fix me doc!

Now the good stuff.

Issue #1 – Wrists slightly twisted inwards while I run

How does this little nuance affect your running? Well, your elbows will bow out a bit more and your arms will move across your body which is a bit less efficient when you are trying to move your body in a forward direction. The second note-worthy and maybe even more important item is that tension is increased in your shoulders.

When I ran with my wrists in a more vertical position, my elbows moved closer to my body and arms moved in more of a forward-backwards motion. Plus my shoulders felt much more relaxed. The feeling is almost immediate. Over the distance of a marathon or longer, I would think this could have a huge impact. Cool stuff!

Issue #2 – Right heal consistently finished higher than left heal

What does this tell me? A fare probability that my right hamstring is stronger than my left. Muscle imbalance.

Issue #3 – Right foot extends farther back than left foot

What does this tell me? A fare probability that my right quad is stronger than my left. Muscle imbalance.

The Next Step

Issue #1 is addressed with some awareness on my part. Issue #2 and #3 are going to be further validated with a 45 minute muscle testing session which will test the entire body for muscle imbalances and from those results a training program will be created to balance and strengthen my weaknesses. I may even turn into a superhero, who knows.

An interesting side note is that periodically I have issues with my left knee. So I wonder if the muscle imbalance is the culprit for this pesky tweak?

When it is all said and done, will I run any faster? That probably will be hard to validate unless I suddenly start running 5:00 min/miles for my easy runs – won’t happen!

But…

Is moving your arms mostly in the desired direction of movement a good thing? I think yes.

Are relaxed shoulders a good thing? I think yes.

Are balanced muscles a good thing? I think yes.

I must say I really liked the gait analysis experience and even learned a few things. I will let you know the outcome of the muscle testing in the coming weeks.

It also would be interesting to observe my characteristics at various effort levels (easy, moderate, hard) and check for any differences. Maybe down the road, I will give that a try.

For those that have had a gait analysis, how was your experience? What did you learn?

Happy Training!

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

3 Responses to “Gait Analysis – How to Run Faster?”

  1. on 27 Aug 2008 at 2:51 pm Adam Harmer

    Hi David,

    Somehow ran across your site and wanted to wish you luck next weekend. I’ll be starting in Two Harbors on Friday so probably won’t see you until after the race. You’ve probably read about the rocks and roots of Superior, they are not exaggerated. It’s slow going so don’t get frustrated by the slow pace. Good luck!

    Adam

  2. on 27 Aug 2008 at 7:07 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Adam,

    Thanks for the well wishes!

    Have a great time during the 100 miler!

    Yes, I have heard somewhat of rocks and roots but haven’t seen much for race reports online to get a better feel. So it should be an interesting experience.

    Pacing…no idea on this one. It is a different world versus the road.

    Hope to catch up with ya after the event.

  3. on 07 Sep 2010 at 9:46 am ProGait

    What a great post! Very informative and a great advertisement for gait analysis!

    Your assessment can be very specific to your sport(s). Your movements will be quite different as a distance runner than a long jump athlete. The state of the art equipment will allow the employee to study the forces running through your feet when they do the job you ask of them.

    As you will know even the smaller advantage can make a large improvement to your performance. Your mechanics will be analysed in the finest detail and look for every opportunity to aid your performance.

    As this post was a while ago, I do hope you found your gait analysis and subsequent muscle testing beneficial.