Video Analysis for Running Gait: Proper Form Makes All the Difference
Though running is not a skill often taught, there is a right and a wrong way to run. Despite technological advances in footwear, the incidence of lower extremity injuries in runners continues to remain high each year; this may be due in part to improper running gait. As mileage increases, it becomes extremely important to make sure your young athlete exhibits correct running form in order to prevent chronic injuries from occurring.
Biomechanical video analysis is a useful tool to analyze running gait. As experts in biomechanics, athletic trainers are able to use video analysis to record a young athlete’s running form from multiple angles. This allows the athletic trainer to examine joint angles at the knee, hip, and ankle, as well as foot strike location and motion up the back and shoulders. Here are some pointers on correct running form.
Posture: Feet should be pointing forward with soft knees. Keep your head up and relax your arms at your sides to a 90 degree angle. Excessive trunk rotation, shoulder elevation, and a forward head require more energy, and can lead to upper back and shoulder pain.
Foot: Contact on the ground should be made at your midfoot, landing under your hip. You should avoid having your heel hit the ground first. The midfoot is better equipped to absorb and transfer forces up your leg than landing on your heel. Heel striking is often associated with knee, hip, and back pain, as well as lower leg stress fractures. Midfoot running is also better for propelling you forward, rather than being slowed by a heel strike in front of your body.
Cadence: Cadence, or how many steps you take a minute, should ideally be around 170-180 steps or 80-90 foot strikes per foot. A faster cadence encourages midfoot running, as well as softer landing.
Lean: Keep your weight slightly forward with flexion at the ankles and knees. Leaning back tends to promote heel striking, which ultimately slows you down, and leads to hip, knee, and back pain. The slight forward lean should be coming from your ankles, not your back in order to avoid lower back pain.
Running affects multiple joints. Even small deficiencies in one area may lead to an altered gait pattern, ultimately making your athlete more susceptible to chronic injuries. Video Analysis allows athletic trainers to break down each aspect of the gait cycle in order to correct these deficiencies. In the same way you would teach a young golfer the correct way to swing a club, young runners should be taught correct running form at an early age to keep their joints healthy and, ultimately, improve performance.
For more information about Video Analysis, contact Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Eric Leighton, ATC at (614) 355-8737 or email at Eric. Leighton@nationwidechildrens.org or learn more about our Sports Medicine team by listening to our PediaCast.