Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sure, You Know Your Height and Weight- But Do You Know Your GAIT???

Running. Some people are avid fans who don’t mind waking up early to pound the pavement. Others would rather walk through fire.

I’m somewhere in-between. I go through phases of wanting to run everyday, pining for the runner’s high. Other times, I just can’t rally myself to run even a mile. At this moment, I’d say I'm somewhere in-between. I could go for a run but I’m not dying to.

I decided it was the perfect time for me to invest in a new pair of running shoes. However, rather than just head to an athletic store, I thought I’d try something I recently heard about and had been meaning to look into: Gait analysis.

The Running Company is an athletic store dedicated to runners. In addition to the shoes, apparel, and accessories they sell, they also offer books, coaching, sponsorship for racing teams, and onsite gait analysis.

Gate analysis is an evaluation of the manner or style of walking, usually done by observing the feet as they walk or trot in a straight line. A Running Company associate then fits you for a running shoe, providing extra cushioning for support wherever necessary.

Some terms associated with Gait Analysis are:

PRONATION: the act of assuming the prone position, or the state of being prone. Applied to the foot, a combination of eversion and abduction movements taking place in the tarsal and metatarsal joints and resulting in lowering of the medial margin of the foot, hence of the longitudinal arch. Basically, it's the way your foot hits the ground when you run or walk.

SUPINATION: a corresponding movement of the foot and leg in which the foot rolls outward with an elevated arch so that in walking the foot tends to come down on its outer edge

NEUTRAL PRONATION: hitting the outside of the heel and ball of the foot evenly across the foot to properly reduce impact on the foot

UNDERPRONATION: occurs when more weight is absorbed by the outside of the foot rather than evenly through the foot strike.

OVERPRONATION: occurs when there is too much roll on the inside of the foot, consequently distributing the weight and shock of impact more heavily on the inside of the foot rather than evenly throughout the foot as found in neutral pronation

To begin the process, I hopped onto a treadmill near the back of the store and proceeded to run at six miles per hour for five minutes. Behind me, a store associate (Daniel) had set up a small video camera which recorded my feet as they hit the treadmill. Directly in front of me, up on the wall, I could watch my feet in real time as I ran. When I finished, Daniel hit a button on the camera which immediately resulted in an analysis of my running gait. It turns out, I have a neutral pronation, which is good! My feet absorb the impact of hitting the ground properly, resulting in less pain and risk of injury for me! Hurray!

Daniel then directed me to two rows of shoes (a selection of about 20) for me to select from. There were, of course, other rows of shoes for those who need extra support in their shoes due to a tendency to underpronate or overpronate. I tried on two pairs and to tell you the truth, I didn’t notice a huge difference from the pair of shoes I already own. When I mentioned this to Daniel, he told me that’s to be expected since I have a natural pronation but that someone who under- or over- pronates would probably be able to feel a significant improvement if they were to try on shoes designed specifically for their running style.

I’ll have to take Daniel’s word for it…. 

Unless one of you wants to have your gait analyzed, learns that you under or over- pronate, buy a shoe accordingly, and gets back to me! 

By the way, a gait analysis at the Running Company is free!

The Running Company (multiple locations): 
Big Peach Running Company, Atlanta

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