What is Gait Analysis?
What is running gait analysis?
All Runners Need stores offer free video gait analysis as part of our Comprehensive running trainer fitting service.
Using video technology to analyse how your feet respond to every step, our expert fitters can assess how much you pronate - that’s the extent to which your foot naturally rolls inward when you run – and where your foot strikes the ground.
After a brief run through of your running history, any previous running injuries, and future running goals we can then use the results of your gait analysis to recommend the best shoe for you.
How is it done?
All our stores use Dartfish technology, the leading computer gait analysis system, to assess your running style.
As you run on the treadmill this sophisticated piece of software uses cameras to capture and assess your biomechanics, style, and skill first in neutral trainers with little to no cushioning to show your natural gait, and then again when testing different running shoes.
We are then able to run a side-by-side comparison to show you the difference in running shoes as one of our expert consultants analyses the video in slow motion and explains your results.
In total it takes about 15 minutes and will require you to run for a few minutes, so if possible, come dressed for a run.
You don’t need to book in advance, simply visit any one of our nationwide stores for your free video gait analysis. Please note that during peak times – lunchtime between 12pm and 2pm and Saturdays – there may be a short wait.
What does it mean?
There is no right or wrong gait, instead this process will highlight whether you’re a neutral runner, an overpronator, or an underpronator to ensure you get the right level of support, allowing you to run efficiently and comfortably with a more natural stride, and with less risk of injury.
- A neutral runner
A neutral runner has the ideal gait for avoiding injuries, especially over long distances.
You supinate and pronate at the right levels so your feet stay balanced as you run. You should go for a neutral, lightweight trainer.
- An overpronating runner
If you overpronate your foot rolls too far inward when you walk or run, causing pain and unnecessary strain on the overall alignment of your body. Usually overpronators will have flat feet or low arches.
Unfortunately, overpronation is one of the main causes of the most common running injuries so your trainers are vital. Well cushioned and supportive trainers will keep your feet and ankles stable allowing you to run securely.
- An underpronating runner
Underpronation, or supination, is when your foot either doesn’t roll inward at all or rolls outward as it hits the ground. This decreases shock absorption and causes the smaller toes to do most of the work during push-off.
Less than 5% of the population are underpronators and are commonly runners with high arches. You’re best opting for a cushioned but neutral and lighter weight running shoe that will encourage flexibility and motion rather than preventing it.
How can I test my running gait myself?
The wet foot test can give you a very basic idea of what shoe could be right for you.
Simply wet the sole of your foot, step onto a piece of heavy duty paper or a dark tiled floor, and examine the footprint you leave behind. The shape of your footprint can tell you whether you have a flat foot, normal, or high arches.
The wet foot test however, should only be used as a preliminary guide as it does not take into account running injuries or foot strike, so we strongly advise you to get a full gait analysis by one of our in-store experts.
- The most expensive pair isn’t necessarily the right shoe for you so don’t be tempted into thinking the higher the price the better the shoe.
- It is usually recommended you buy a trainer half a size to a size larger than your normal shoe to accommodate foot movement and swelling during running. Check with your gait expert when buying new shoes.
- Comfort is crucial, but make sure a qualified expert analyses your running gait in that trainer, what might be comfortable while you walk around the store isn’t necessarily right for your running style.
Like running spikes, the individual spike studs or pins, come in different shapes and sizes.
- 6mm - These are best for track and field or dry terrain in cross-country. Ideal for athletic tracks as most tracks or centres don't allow pins longer than 6mm.
- 9mm - Good for cross-country running, giving especially good grip in muddy and wet conditions.
- 12-15mm - Perfect for fell running or steep hills such as during a steeplechaser event, they are designed with difficult terrain and maximum grip in mind.
Running spikes are intended to be snug to give you the most control over your foot but it’s important they’re still comfortable to keep you running at your best.
It’s also worth considering pin placement and number of pins in a spike; usually either six pin or four pins. Four pinned spikes tend to have the pins towards the centre on the spike plate, best for runners for supinate (underpronate). Which ones you go for is down to personal preference, comfort, and fit.
- Always carry spares if you're heading out for an event and make sure you check your pins frequently as they can wear down as quickly as in 3 months.
- As running spikes are a snug fit whether you wear socks or not is up to you. Going sock-free however can increase your chance of blisters so look for a thin technical sock to get the best of both.
- Always break in a pair of running spikes before competing in them to reduce your risk of injury. Running spikes have a negative heel drop so extra stress is placed on your forefoot increasing your risk of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and shin splints.
Frequently asked questions
- How often should I get my gait analysed?
We recommend getting your gait tested once a year as your running style will naturally change the more you run.
- Should I get the same trainers every time?
Brands often make small changes and updates to their running shoes, so a newer style or model of running shoe may no longer be suitable. If you’re unsure, talk to your trainer fitter.
- How often should you change your running shoes?
Generally, you should replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles depending on your weight and the surface you run on.
For someone who runs 3 miles 3 times a week this would roughly equate to a new pair of running shoes every 10 to 12 months.
A good test is the tried and true, kitchen bench inspection method. If you can make the shoe rock with one finger on the heel counter, or you can see that the midsole has compressed, it’s usually a sure sign that it's time to get a new pair. Similarly, if the shoe sole is noticeably worn more in one part than another, or on one shoe more than the other, swap them out as soon as possible.
- How many miles does it take to break in new running shoes?
While there is no set mileage to wear in new running shoes it’s important to take it easy and break them in before going for long distances.
If you can, alternate your new running shoes with your old ones. Not only will you notice any changes between the old and new models but you’ll also give your feet and legs a chance to re-adjust to the firmer, pre-broken in, cushioning.
To avoid risk of injury close to an event make sure that, if you need new shoes, you have replaced them at least four weeks before a race.
- My new running shoes are giving me blisters, help! What do I do?
Your running shoes should always be comfortable from the moment you put them on. Breaking them in won’t change the way they fit so if you’re getting blisters or the shoes are rubbing, they’re probably too small.
Go to any Runners Need store across the UK for your free professional video gait analysis; all of our staff are fully-trained and there to help you.