Running Performance – Video Gait Analysis Part 2 (Characteristics)

This is Part 2 of Video Gait Analysis and we are going to go over a few things to look for when examining your gait video. In Part 1 we reviewed the techniques and tips for getting good footage, and now we’ll take a look at a few of the components of running gait. 

It’s important to recognize that when we are running, or moving athletically in any sense, we are expressing integrated, whole body movement. Even though we will break down a few of the phases of the gait cycle, the sum is greater than the parts for sure. Also keep in mind that each and every Lifetime Athlete has a unique signature in movement that is driven by genetics, structure, injury, and even psychological state to some extent. 

Generally speaking, we analyze gait to see what’s going on and to learn how an athlete is moving. We look for things that either identify unique characteristics of each runner, or that possibly could be improved. If a runner is never injured and performing at their goal level, I’m less likely to try to “fix” anything. However, if someone is having a chronic, nagging pain problem, or just wants to run faster…we’ll look at anything that can enhance running economy and efficiency. It’s definitely an art form.

One thing to keep in mind when we talk about running mechanics is that there are both similarities and differences between jogging, running, and sprinting. The range of motion and force application will be quite low in jogging, across a broad middle in running at different speeds, and at its highest in sprinting. The concepts are similar but the intent with which they are applied will roughly correlate to the speed of locomotion.

To be honest, there are actually so many nuances to gait analysis that my challenge is to not overcomplicate this reference. I’ll provide some but certainly not all areas to consider when watching your running film. The table below will be a quick guide and I’ll discuss these terms at length on the podcast.

Footstrikeheel/midfoot/forefootInitial contact
Peak loading
Foot Relative to HipUnder or just forward of hipSweet spot strike zone
Avoid overstriding or overreaching
Foot AlignmentToe-in/straight/toe-outRelatively straight but
room for variance
Knee AngulationBent versus straightLand flexed not locked
Knee RotationTurning in or outShould not be excessive
Hip StabilityDoes side opposite stance leg drop?Avoid collapse
Knee Lift/Heel RecoveryDrive up or pendulum swingActive pick up versus passive
SnapdownActively attack the groundDegree of vigor is related
to velocity
Pelvis PositionLevel or TiltedAvoid excessive anterior tilt
and overarching
Spine StatusNormal curves or excessive archLeaning back can cause overstriding
and heel striking
Arm SwingElbow and shoulder anglesSpeed dependent
Hand TensionSoft fistRelaxed but not floppy
Hold a chip
Body Angle (from side)Just forward of perpendicularFall forward from the ankle
RotationReciprocal CounterbalanceAvoid crossing midline
These are just a few of the great things we analyze in your running mechanics!

Now we will give some attention to asymmetry. Movements and positions are not always exactly equal from side to side in many runners. Many times this is due to structural issues, such as leg length discrepancies or scoliosis. These are known as fixed deformities and no amount of cueing or stretching is gonna change them. But many asymmetrical presentations are the result of compensatory patterns for subtle imbalances in strength or mobility throughout the body. Sometimes, if we see an asymmetry and can relate it to one of these compensation or substitution patterns, we can correct the issue. Again, I’ll usually only go after that if I can make a good case that it is either causing pain (or will) or impairing performance for the runner. As a coach you’ve got to get buy-in anytime you propose a change.

As you can see, gait analysis is an exciting project. You can be a “kinesiological detective” and possibly uncover some things that can help you to run better, faster, and farther. I approached Part 2 of our video gait analysis in a unique manner. I intentionally made this article relatively brief. Then, in the video, I talked about the topics written here as you observed some of the athletes I coach running. And…in The Lifetime Athlete Podcast — I discussed gait analysis at greater length. I hope you find this information to be a useful resource. If you’d like to work with me in a coaching capacity to send me your running footage and receive a consultation regarding findings and interventions, you can schedule a coaching appointment at your convenience. Thank you for reading and good luck with all your training and competition endeavors.


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