One-size-fits all running guidelines can be helpful, but everyone’s body is built and moves differently. Even the slightest differences can have a huge impact. Poor posture, muscle imbalance and improper shoes can all be reasons for an irregular gait.
A running gait analysis can be a great tool to pinpoint weaknesses and help improve your running form when done holistically. A traditional running gait analysis only looks at the feet and ankles to identify abnormalities, and though this can be helpful, it may not be able to identify the underlying problem. On the other hand, a full body running gait analysis looks at how the whole body moves while running. During a full body running gait analysis, a physical therapist records the feet, ankles, knees, hips and trunk of the body from different angles, to help identify issues and determine the best ways to improve your running form. They analyze how the muscles throughout the whole body work together, to uncover abnormalities in your gait that go beyond foot and ankle placement. These abnormalities are the cause of the most common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, knee pain and IT band syndrome.
Correct Poor Posture
Poor posture is one of the most common reasons for lower back pain in runners. Poor posture shifts the center of your body back and does not allow you to use the muscles that stabilize the spine and the lower leg. After a running gait analysis, a physical therapist can customize strengthening exercises and stretches to help correct your posture and activate the correct muscles while running.
Avoid Muscle Imbalance
Running relies on specific muscles, which can cause muscle imbalance. Many times these imbalances cause irregular gait patterns which increase the risk of injury. A physical therapist performing a running gait analysis can recognize these imbalances and show you corrective exercises to strengthen the lesser used muscles.
Make Proper Shoe Selection
All running shoes are not the same. Sometimes poor footwear is the reason for an altered and painful running gait. Using the correct footwear that offers the proper support can often show improvement in running form and help reduce pain with running. A running gait analysis can identify the striking pattern of your foot, so a professional shoe recommendation can be given.
A gait analysis is about looking at the interaction of the whole body while moving. Whether it is a more appropriate shoe or corrective exercises, a running gait analysis can greatly help improve your running game.
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