Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. So, are you ready for an awful and shocking truth? 70% of all runners will be injured this year. 7 out of 10. That’s nearly three fourths of all runners, including triathletes. 3/4ths! And for many of those folks, the injury they experience will be devastating and frustrating beyond words. The statistics are crazy and shocking, and also sad. It honestly doesn’t have to be that way.
WHY do so many runners get injured? There are many reasons, but let’s start with the simple fact that running is just plain HARD on your body. For example, have you ever stopped to think that when you run ONE mile, you do the equivalent of approximately 1500 one-leg-squat jumps? That’s just ONE mile. Working against the forces of gravity and ground reaction, your body had better be resilient, strong and mobile enough to hold up as the miles add up. And most bodies aren’t. Especially those just starting out hoping to use running to lose weight or get fit.
Through no fault of your own, triathletes and runners have not been told the full story of what it takes to stay healthy and become faster too. The marketing machine surrounding shoe sales and races (get your latest cool colors or latch onto the latest fad: minimalist anyone?) diverts the average runner’s attention. Add that together with uninformed trainers and coaches who don’t know any better, and what you have is what you have.
So what’s the real story? And most importantly, what can YOU do about it?
In a nutshell, movement quality is the story, that’s what. (Keep reading, trust me, you need to know this!)
How your body moves and functions is the alpha and the omega of your ultimate athletic potential. Movement quality is the difference between an athlete who rocks it year after year, able to perform at peak potential vs. an athlete stuck in plateaus of sub-par performance or, worse, deals with vicious cycles of injury.
As gait analysis experts, we can use our knowledge of this incredibly powerful tool to provide a clear way to explain what you need to know, what you need to examine, and why you need to fix your imbalances.
Most people think gait analysis is:
a) only about how you walk or run
b) only about your feet and your shoes
c) something you get done in a running shoe store
Many think gait analysis is all about–and ONLY about–someone looking at you as you walk or run while evaluating your feet and your shoes.
How many of you have done the following? A clerk in your local running store watches you jog, and suggests a pair of shoes that are more stable, or more neutral, or more cushioned, or are the type that “forces” you to land midfoot. Voila! Your biomechanical problems are solved. This is what most people know–and have come to accept–as gait analysis.
We are here to tell you that a shoe store gait analysis is about as far from the real deal as you can get. In fact, true gait analysis is not a generic exercise, but is a scientifically-based and technically precise process. It is highly individualized, and reveals much about how you will hold up to training and, ultimately, perform.
When conducting a gait analysis, the feet are only one small piece of your biomechanical puzzle.
What happens at the feet is merely a part of a holistic, whole body, integrated MOVEMENT pattern. Running, like most other whole body activities (such as swimming or playing many field sports), is essentially a unique way of moving. When we analyze a client statically, dynamically, and then running on the treadmill during a gait analysis, it serves to provide a unique, personal movement “map.” That “map” reveals the programming of everything happening within the body–from kinesthetic awareness and habit, to individual levels of mobility, stability, flexibility, and functional strength. The analysis of all of these different elements taken together is what creates a complete picture of a person’s gait.
In essence, what we do isn’t “gait” analysis at all, it is true “movement” analysis. Gait analysis uncovers precisely how YOUR body is moving.
Every activity, even standing still, represents a unique movement pattern. That pattern is bred from your habits and lifestyle, as well as your body’s mobility, stability, flexibility and strength. Every action you take–running stride, pedal stroke, swim stroke, etc.–represents a unique movement pattern. If your movement patterns include compensations (and they likely do), we can pinpoint the areas in the body where these losses of efficiency, or compensation, originate.
Where athletes get into trouble is when major compensation, which often leads to true dysfunction, continues for extended periods of time.
What typically happens is this….
Compensations in the body lead to imbalances and instability around joints. The larger prime movers (hamstrings, glutes, quads, etc.) are often forced to help create stability or on the flip side, become less active, and end up contributing less than their fair share of the work in moving us around.
The smaller/tiny stabilizers are forced to step in (compensate) and do the work of the larger, more powerful prime movers. The stabilizers are taxed day in and day out, mile after mile. Over time they end up, in a word, fried. Shredded. The wear and tear on the stabilizers greatly compromises recovery and your ability to train consistently.
In short, this scenario is an injury waiting to happen. We see it over and over again.
Discovering the inefficiencies and compensation unique to YOU is the power of what true gait analysis can reveal. Once uncovered, you can then begin to address inefficient and costly “energy leaks” that rob you of power and free speed (*the speed you get without having to pay a “price” to get it!).
We can’t say it enough–improper, unbalanced movement limits your ultimate potential and puts you at an exponentially-increased risk of injury.
In short, gait analysis is about YOU, and your personal and very unique way of moving. Unless the underlying causes of your dysfunctional movement patterns are addressed, your patterns won’t change, and, thus, the risk of injury won’t improve. Gait analysis is about looking at your entire body as a holistic organism–a single amazing unit.
It goes far beyond an untrained eye watching you jog in a pair of sneakers.
So what to do?
First, to learn more about what you can do NOW to avoid or recover from injury, check out our series on how to SOLVE the three most common running injuries NOW!
If you have any questions at all on the above, hit us up on Facebook or drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best!