If you are serious about running, and running injury-free, you should get a gait analysis, preferably from a professional trainer, writes Radhika Meganathan.
“Gait is the movement created when you move your legs and arms to run. So a gait analysis tells you what your running style is and how you can improve it for the better,” says Karthik FC, coach at The Unit strength training studio in Chennai. “No matter what your fitness level or running level is, you can change your gait to suit your goals.”
Every runner has a unique style and if yours reveal to be less than ideal, no sweat, you can easily remedy that. While revising your gait, here are some things to check for:
1. Posture: Run tall and lean slightly forward to get the right incline on your back. Old habits die hard and if you tend to
slouch, this may be hard at first, but trust us, it gets better. “As you run longer and frequently, your body will learn the right posture by practice. In fact, if you are a keen learner, it only takes a month to correct your gait,” says Karthik.
2. Core: A lot of runners underestimate the importance of breathing and core strength, so make sure you breathe the right way (your tummy should go in when you breathe out) and get your abs workout without fail. Another tip is to learn how to use your glutes to land on the ground, instead of relying on footwork alone. Strength training will help you with this.
3. Feet: Stride length and foot strike are the words you will be using a lot, when you concentrate on how your foot hits the ground when you run. Heel strike puts pressure on your knees, so your goal must be midfoot strike. As much as possible, keep your stride length short, rather than long. Train your feet to land underneath you and not in front. The closer your foot remains to your body, lesser are the chances of injuries.
4. Rhythm: Optimum and smooth cadence are the holy grail that every serious runner aspires for. Once your posture and feet strike are in sync, your rhythm will fall into place. If you are interested in biomechanical techniques to enhance your gait, ChiRunning, Evolution Running, and Stride Mechanics are some of the latest models advocated by running gurus in the world, and if you want to explore some of these techniques, you can look it up online and have a chat with your trainer (or contact these organisations directly).
5. Equipment: Yes, we are talking about shoes! Perhaps the best way to ensure mid foot strike is to pick a shoe that supports that strike. “Ideally, you should change your shoes for every 1000 kilometer you run. I know it’s tough to track the distance you run, but if you are a serious runner, you cannot use the same shoes for years, because doing so will leave damage inside your soles and will impact your gait” says Karthik. “A6 and New Balance are some shoes that are very gait-friendly. “
If you are an aspiring or new runner, it may be easier to learn a good gait at the beginning itself. That said, if you are an experienced runner, then in no time will you be able to enhance your running cadence and posture. But still, it’s worth to remember that as one ages, the body undergoes inevitable physical changes and this often means that your gait and form also gets affected. So do not be annoyed or apprehensive about constant updating requirements.
Just keep a positive outlook, look out for any changes in your body and train accordingly!