What Are Running Mechanics & Gait Analysis?

Understanding Running Mechanics Through Gait Analysis

Body mechanics is a science increasingly gaining traction (if you’ll pardon the pun) thanks to a combination of excellent technologies and more interest than ever before. Hobby runners and serious athletes are signing up to learn more about their bodies through gait analysis, hoping to improve their game and gains.

Today’s sensor-based technologies offer an amazing array of information, from the relationship between force and foot function to the connection between weight shift movements and athletic performance. One relationship is especially useful—that between running mechanics and gait analysis.

We’ll first examine what running gait is and how that relates to running mechanics. Then we will discuss how gait analysis can determine mechanics and improve them. In doing so, we hope to paint a thorough picture of running mechanics and gait analysis that will help you maximize your health and body.

What Is Running Gait?

While running is fundamental in sports, it’s a popular way to decompress and improve physical fitness. It also brings significant risks. Everyone knows that running makes people more prone to injury. Not everyone knows how the gait cycle impacts this reality. Understanding this is key to the link between running mechanics and gait analysis.

Running gait is the total bodily motions you make as you move from stride to stride. Also known as the gait cycle, it represents the full range of movement your leg experiences from when it hits the ground to when it lifts off again. That includes the foot strike, stance phase, and swing phase.

In walking, one typically sees a heel strike, though in running, some people land on the fore or mid-foot instead. Such changes impact ground reaction force, time on the ground versus air, and the chances of getting injured. It all comes down to body mechanics.

What Are Running Mechanics?

Running mechanics describe the complete set of movements when you train, whether running on a field, treadmill or trail.

This includes foot placement, joint movements, angles of limbs and joints, speed, stride length, posture and arm placement, spine alignment, and more. Together, good mechanics will prevent you from being injured. Bad mechanics will slow you down and increase the risk of injury.

Depending on your running technique or running form, you will experience different mechanics from someone else.

How Does Gait Analysis Determine Mechanics?

Your mechanics and your gait are closely related. By performing gait analysis, trainers and physicians can determine how to improve your running economy (increase speed and reduce resource waste) and reduce running injuries.

How? Using sensor-based technologies to gather data and create 3D pictures of your running mechanics and gait analysis. You don wearable sensors in shoes, which wirelessly transmit super-detailed data to software systems that collect and use it to make incredible real-time models of how you move.

After a few runs, you will have a detailed picture of how you move. That will allow experts to make the best recommendations for you going forward.

How Can Gait Analysis Improve Mechanics?

The question of how running mechanics and gait analysis can work together to improve your body, and your game is important. Gait analysis brings all sorts of data to life, which can help prevent injuries and improve running.

Moreover, people, as varied as physical therapists, doctors, athletic trainers, and footwear experts, can use gait analysis to:

  • Advice on the proper footwear
  • Design strength training and physical therapy programs
  • Help you adjust your gait to get faster

Video analysis of your running mechanics can help inform how gait changes later in life, making it easier to get help if you ever become injured. Whatever the case, knowledge is power… and if you’re a runner, you need all the knowledge you can get to increase speed and decrease injuries.

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