What I learned From Run Gait Analysis with FX Studios Physical Therapy
You probably know by now that one of the major keys to improving your running efficiency is in your form. We've all heard you should shorten your stride length, don't swing your arms across your body, don't heel strike etc. Greatinformation in theory — but what are the underlying causes and how can you fix them?
Get your stride/gait analyzed by a professional physical therapist! Want more tips for how to maximize your off season right now? Read this.
Kim at FX Studios Physical Therapy is my go-to PT for all my aches and pains - usually running related but sometimes not. SO when I saw they now offer a Gait Analysis and I could get ahead of my injuries before they started, I signed up for an appointment right away.
Why you should have your gait/stride analyzed:
- Having a professional assessment is going to be more accurate than doing it yourself. Runners love to self diagnose. If you haven't haphazardly propped up your iPhone on the sidewalk with a combo of rocks and your running jacket - it's only a matter of time before you were going to try. A professional PT or sports doctor does this day in and day out and can pin point in a matter of minutes what you need to work on.
- The sooner you get started, the sooner you will see improvements. No one wants to wait until an injury happens to get sidelined and see a PT. Put in a little bit of work NOW and you'll start to see the benefits by the time you hit the start line for your goal race.
- Get specific exercises that target YOUR own body. No two runners are created equal and we all have our own set of imbalances and weaknesses. Yes we can all benefit from more strength training, less sitting and more core work — but a professional can tell you what your specific body needs based on your movement patterns.
What you can expect:
I imagined being hooked up to all kinds of machines / sensors and have some computer spit out a compilation of charts and graphs about my movement. I was surprised to find out it was a much more low tech experience. That's not to say they have't tried the high tech approach. As it turns out computers aren't really any better at analyzing movement patterns than a well trained physical therapist.
All I had to do was hop on a treadmill, and start running. Kim then used a video app called Hudl to record me running from the front, side and back. Each video is about a minute long and the whole process could not have taken more than 5 minutes. I didn't even have to break a sweat!
We then sat down in the office and Kim played the videos in slow motion for me, pointing out the patterns she was seeing and the potential causes. From the forward view, you can see my legs passing the midline of my body as they come forward. You can also see my foot angle inwards, as if I was going to land on the outside edge of it - but it turns at the last minute to hit the ground flat. I have a pretty good foot strike - hitting at the mid-foot point which was good. My hips dip slightly throughout my stride — although a little bit of a hip dip is to be expected. From the side view also pointed out that I travel up and down more than I should, and while this is typical to see exaggerated on a treadmill it's still something that can be improved.
Overall the biggest two take aways were weakness in my gluteus medius (think of it like your side butt) and hip flexors. I was surprised at this second part because I focus a lot of my strength training on hip flexor flexion/contraction [squeezing a muscle to reduce it's length] but not hip flexor extension [increasing a muscle length].
She then gave me 3 exercises to help strengthen my weak points.
Standing Heel Raise with Hip and Knee Flexion at Wall
This experience was a total game changer. My current game plan is to slowly introduce running into my workouts a few times a week and then start regularly training by spring time. This gives me plenty of time to start implementing these moves into my routine. Here's hoping to an injury free running season for once!
Have you ever done a gait / stride analysis?