A recent article published in Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy outlined the work of researchers in gathering 974 studies on running gait retraining and found 10 quality studies that support Running Gait Analyses, which are real-time feedback sessions between runner and physical therapist in changing gait and running mechanics: click here for article.
Feedback tools used for gait retraining in the articles are identical to what we have used at our Stride Strong running clinics: visual feedback by way of mirrors and recording videos, and audio feedback by way of verbal coaching from PTs and the use of metronomes to track step cadence.
Benefits of running gait retraining include real-time corrections on biomechanical faults resulting from faulty activation or (more commonly) inactivation of key muscles that regulate stable running posture. The result from improved running form is a heightened chance of reduction of injury.
Some faults commonly seen in runners and quickly detected at a Running Gait Analysis are:
- Hip drop during swing phase of gait. A stable, even pelvis denotes good activation of core and gluteal muscles - when a hip drop is seen, correction of this leads to a much more stable base to foot strike on, and can reduce incidences of running-related hip and low back pain.
- Knee valgus during stance phase of gait. What this looks like is knock-knee effect when landing on the affected leg. This puts a lot of pressure onto the knee joint and can cause issues like IT Band Syndrome, Patello-femoral pain syndrome, and MCL strains.
- Lateral foot whip. This happens during the toe-off to the swing phase of running gait. It can be caused by a multitude of factors - either tight calves and ankle joints; prolonged foot pronation; or a faulty and quick moment of the hip that moves from internal to external rotation to compensate for lack of hip strength. The biggest visual effect is a whip of the foot as it swings forward.
Your physical therapists at Stride Strong PT are all very equipped and trained to observe these running faults. Just ask any of us about our roster of continuing education classes on running gait mechanics, and we'd be happy to show off. (In fact, the whole Stride Strong crew is gearing up to attend another weekend-long seminar in two weeks!)