Let’s start by putting one foot in front of the other….
Each time your foot hits the ground when you run, your body needs to absorb 3-4 times its own weight. This impact creates an equal and opposite force that is generated and dispersed through the body – most commonly referred to as the ground reaction force (GRF). This GRF we can simplify and refer to as ‘load’.
There are lots of variables within an individuals running style that will dictate where this load is transferred. Depending on the running or gait pattern, certain muscle groups, joints or other structures will be more, or less stressed in accepting the ‘load’.
Lets take an example of landing with an over-stride (landing point being too far in front of the runner) like the running emoji here! The vertical GRF are most likely to overload structures in the upper hamstrings, hip or lower back. This gait is most commonly seen amongst runners who have tight hip flexors, weak glutes (hip extensors) and poor core / lower abdominal function. Other factors can play their part, like a slow step rate and inappropriate footwear.
At Fit4-Physio, we love to help runners reduce the risk of injury, improve efficiency and solve injury problems through gait analysis. But our assessments always start off the treadmill. We look at various validated tests to assess muscle length and strength and also some functional challenges to analyse an athlete’s movement patterning and control. All this information is used to build a picture of the athlete as a whole.
Next comes the running….. We have a fantastic Life Fitness treadmill in the clinic – one of the best on the market – to help replicate a natural running feel. On the treadmill are two Optojump ™ LED bars that talk to each other. Each time a foot breaks the LED beam, a whole host of information is computed by the Optojump software. This data assists in analysing any discrepancies between right and left sides and provides useful numbers combined with video feedback to complete the analysis jigsaw.
We are delighted to say we’re hooking up with the guys at TRIB3 on Ecclesall Road and were pleased to welcome business manager Leigh to the clinic recently for a gait analysis. The TRIB3 training sessions are approximately one third treadmill based and Leigh is striving to complete the Sheffield half marathon in 2017 so it was great to be able to work with Leigh to make his running more efficient and to highlight areas that may be at risk of injury as he builds up his run training. He’s kindly agreed to share some before and after photos to show the differences a little run re-training can make.
Firstly Leigh was able to reduce his over-stride and reduce his anterior pelvic angle with some simple cues (and also increased his step rate). There is evidence to suggest that these changes should reduce the vertical ground reaction force and place less stress on his hamstrings and lower back.
Secondly, Leigh’s lateral pelvic drop and trunk side bend (to the same side) improved with the same simple cues. We should find this reduces the risk of run related hip and knee pain.
There are a few flexibility and strengthening issues Leigh needs to continue to work on but we’re confident he will make some really nice changes and smash the Sheffield half marathon in April next year! We’re certainly looking forward to seeing how Leigh gets on when we catch up for his review session in a few weeks.
Its worth noting that we place a great importance in considering the appropriate load for you with regards the amount and type of running you are doing or planning. We’ll certainly try to help with your planning and if we, or you think you need more specialist run coaching, we can point you in the right direction!
If you’d like to know more about our gait analysis, why don’t you have a look here or contact us. We’ll look forward to hearing from you and help to make you faster, stronger and Fit4 your running goals!