Running injuries and discussions about them are myriad and varied. Any runner knows that injuries are a part and parcel of the sport that gives him so much joy. Injuries also come in many shapes and sizes- the severity varies, the causes vary and each injury teaches the runner something new about his body. In fact, a seasoned runner often thinks of himself as a doctor since with every injury he researched it to no end emerging slightly wiser. If you are a runner you are probably nodding your consent now!
I love treating runners; just for the simple fact that they are much more aware of their bodies than any other patient. This makes my job easier. Of course the difficult part is to get them to take a break from the running while the injury heals. My philosophy is to keep the runner running through the treatment if possible but there are some injuries that just need to get some rest to improve. If I can make my runner understand this then the injury will soon be behind us. Running injuries big or small occur for various reasons ranging from incorrect shoes, ramping up training too quickly, neglecting small niggles till they become an issue,running form, and many others.
Your running form (Gait) is as unique as your fingerprints are. It is wonderful to have your own style of running that works for you. However there are some general guidelines (based on years of research) as to what is correct and what is not. Since running consists of a repetitive function of body parts, certain running patterns lead to overuse of joints and muscles leading to niggles that turn into injuries.Hence knowing your running form, getting it analysed by an expert and making small changes before the gait pattern becomes fixed in the neural pathways is invaluable. There are various reasons why one must seek out a Gait Analysis.
1. If you are ready to buy a new shoe. Buying a shoe without knowing your foot type is like knowingly stepping off a precipice. Figuring out your exact foot type (arch size; arch mechanics-supination, neutral, over-pronation) can help you determine what kind of shoe is right for you so that you can stop experimenting.
2. If you have recently started running. This is the best time to figure out your running form before you start running in faulty patterns leading to injuries.
3. You will be able to see how your body moves. For example, most runners say while watching the gait video in slow motion that they had no idea they ran like that! For example the runner sees in the video that he is doing a heel strike while for the longest time he thought that he had a mid- foot strike.
4. You will understand your body better in terms of flexibility and strength deficits which may in the long run prevent you from becoming an efficient runner. An expert can help you understand why for example a ‘hip drop’ possibly due to weak core or glutes maybe causing your knee to hurt.
5. The Gait Analysis video provides you a ‘before’ and ‘after’ to help you improve consistently in your running without succumbing to injuries.
A Gait Analysis consists of having a sports physiotherapist watch you run on a treadmill while also taking videos from different angles. I usually have my runners run barefoot first and then in shoes. This gives me a complete picture. This is followed by a physical examination and assessment of their current shoes. This information is broken down for the runner in the way that he can understand how to make small changes in the running (if needed) and some specific flexibility or strengthening exercises that will help prevent any issues from cropping up in the future.
To quote from Active: “Gait Analysis is about looking at your entire body as a wholistic organism- a single amazing unit. It goes far beyond an untrained eye watching you jog in a pair of sneakers.”
So Keep Calm and Keep Running. Life is better in running shoes!