What Is Gait Analysis And Why Should You Care?

Whether you're a seasoned runner or just starting out, the right trainers are essential



Forefoot, mid or heel striker? Do you over pronate, or pronate just right? Road runner or trail blazer? A shoe that suits one person may prove ineffective for another. The right (or wrong) trainer can make a difference to your PB but, more importantly, can protect you from injury and help correct discomfort along the way. How to choose? We too have been mystified by the Wall of Choice, armed with misinformation or opting for aesthetics without any idea of what we were getting our feet into. 'Sometimes runners come in with a recommendation from friends or family who they obviously trust, and it can be difficult to guide them out of that frame of mind', says Saucony's Senior Technical Representative Simon Jones, who helped me find the perfect pair of trainers for the Paris Marathon. 'Everyone is different, and has different needs and preferences.'


The good news is there's a very simple solution to get you up and running, the right way: gait analysis.

Here's how it works:

Book an appointment at a reputable specialist shop or at your gym. We tried Runner's Need (runnersneed.com). When you arrive, you'll be asked to run on a treadmill for about 30 seconds, starting slowly and building up to a natural pace (no need to panic, you're in control of the speed). The assessor takes a short video of your feet, which you'll watch back in slow motion. This is revelatory. I thought I landed on my mid-foot, and stayed fairly straight; turns out I overpronate considerably (when your foot rolls inwards after you've hit the ground), which explains why I develop tendon pain on longer runs. After the assessor talks you through any issues you have – and trust me, they'll be evident – they'll recommend any number of shoes for you to trial, as you repeat the process until you find one that feels best. I tried a few different pairs, from barefoot feel to super stable, until settling on one somewhere in between.

The verdict? I finished my second marathon injury-free, and (virtually) pain free. I felt a major difference on long runs, and though I still use barefoot shoes for training in the gym, for distance I'll wear my Saucony Guide 8s until it's time to replace them, putting in as many miles as I can. Then I'll have my gait reassessed, and see what shoe will suit my future form.

Your trainers are a tool. All aboard to the shoelace express.

Tips to maximise your gait analysis
• Bring your current trainers with you for a true picture of how you usually run.
• Don't 'perform': The assessor isn't there to critique your style. Run as naturally as possible to get the closest fit.
• Simon says: the staff in running specialist stores have a great deal of knowledge these days, so enjoy the experience and if you're not sure of something, ask.

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