How To Perfect Your Running Form, Avoid Injury and Improve Your Time

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Thinking about getting your running gait analyzed? The term gait analysis is often misused – many people use it to describe how a running shoe specialist evaluates your foot patterns to fit you into the appropriate running shoe.

But a true gait analysis is done in a clinical or research facility by a licensed and trained physical therapist with the goal of helping a runner improve efficiency, avoid injury or even pinpoint the cause of an old injury.

What is a Gait Analysis?

In a gait analysis, a physical therapist performs an in-depth examination of your movement patterns while you walk or run. A gait analysis can help you improve your running form to avoid injury and run more efficiently.

A gait analysis can involve taking a video of you as you walk or run from multiple views.

The physical therapist also will use tests and assessments to analyze how your body looks as you run for a short distance. The way you use your feet, ankles, knees, hips and your trunk all can provide information on opportunities for improvement.

The physical therapist also may measure the degrees and angles of your knees, ankles and hips while you walk or run.

The physical therapist reviews deviations in arm movement, vertical displacement, trunk stability, biomechanics at certain joints, as well as cadence throughout the different phases of gait.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do with Gait Information?

These findings from the gait analysis, along with a thorough physical therapy clinical examination, allow the therapist to establish an individualized treatment plan.

You’ll be given a personalized exercise program that addresses muscle weakness and flexibility limitations, improves movement patterns and running economy, optimizes performance, and minimizes pain.

If appropriate, the physical therapist can provide you with information and advice to help you return to run and achieve your fitness goals.

Who Benefits From Gait Analysis

A gait analysis may be beneficial for those who enjoy running as a recreational activity, or for athletes looking to optimize their performance following an injury.

New as well as experienced runners can benefit, since an analysis of their movement may help improve pain and decrease the likelihood of injury.

 “Video gait analysis evaluates your biomechanics and it is useful for injury treatment and prevention as well as performance enhancement,” says sports medicine specialist Laura Goldberg, MD.

“Improving your stance, cadence, and motion positively affects your running efficiency, and more efficient means less energy cost for your effort. We recommended this for all levels of runners – from experienced endurance athletes to beginner runners.”

Karishma Patel, PT, is a University Hospitals physical therapist providing services at the Jewish Community Center in Beachwood.

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UH Sports Medicine takes a multidisciplinary approach that integrates care from medical experts who specialize in diagnosis and treatment for athletes of all ages and abilities. Our fellowship-trained sports medicine specialists, primary care doctors, nutritionists, sleep experts and other health care professionals ensure the very best in health and medical care for athletes. Learn more about UH Sports Medicine.

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