Why is Gait Retraining Important?
Once we have completed a detailed video running gait analysis of your running gait, we will be able to identify any atypical movement patterns, asymmetries and inefficiencies in your running form. So why do we care and what do we do about it?
Abnormal movement patterns and asymmetries in running gait lead to increased and unbalanced stress to tissues and joints. Because running is such a repetitive activity, even slight stress imbalances can lead to injury. If we can balance stresses side to side and reduce stress to an area where you already have an injury, we can help you heal more quickly without forcing you to stop running! We can prevent injuries that have been shown to be caused by faulty mechanics. And, most importantly, we can improve your running efficiency, even if you aren’t injured, to improve performance and help you achieve that PR you have your heart set on!
How Does Gait Retraining Work?
Running gait retraining is a systematic re-education of faulty gait patterns! First, you must have a specialized, individualized running video gait analysis to assess how you are moving while running and determine what type of gait retraining strategies will be the best for you. I will work with you on a specialized, individualized treatment plan to improve and correct your form errors to reduce your pain and help you recover from injury, and improve your performance by making you a more efficient runner, allowing you to run faster with less effort. By teaching you what needs to be changed and how to do it, and incorporating therapeutic exercises, stretches and manual treatment to help you achieve and be able to maintain an efficient running form for the duration of your run, we can take a multidimensional approach to making you a better, pain free runner.
Many clinicians (physical therapists, coaches, chiropractors and more) prescribe only strength training or stretching to address pain and injury in runners. This has been found to be lacking the specificity that is necessary to carry over to improved movement patterns (good running form or running gait). Strength training alone has been shown in research to be ineffective in altering gait – we have to train your brain to learn how it should be moving! Your body (and brain) has gotten used to the way you are running, and it will take some practice and time for it to learn this new and better way. You need a running specialist who knows how and when to modify your running gait through proven gait retraining strategies in order to make effective and immediate changes in your form and decrease any pain that you may have.
How Long Does Gait Retraining Take?
The gait retraining process can last anywhere from one session to many, depending on how long you have been running with an abnormal pattern, how quickly your body is able to make changes in form and if you need additional manual treatment to help your joints, muscles, and tissues move in the full motion that is necessary for efficient running form. At each session, you will be given a few items on which to focus during your runs, and you will be given plenty of time to practice on your own. It takes a few weeks to a few months to truly learn and maintain new movement patterns, so gait retraining does require some time and patience to work most effectively. However, in many runners, gait retraining can start on session one and will work to get them through an upcoming race without additional appointments prior to that event. Running gait retraining requires more mental work than running in your old form until it becomes your new normal movement, and as a result may make you feel fatigued earlier on your runs. With time, this will improve and eventually will feel much easier than your old form. Most of my athletes report that while it is difficult and more tiring to try to run keeping these form adjustments in mind initially, once their new gait is “ingrained” and requires less mental effort, they feel running is much easier and their pace gets faster and faster. They also feel great and have much less or no pain!
Who Needs Gait Retraining?
There is significant evidence that shows that gait retraining reduces pain and improves function in runners with Runner’s knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome), Achilles tendinitis, Plantar fasciitis, shin splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome), IT Band syndrome, Osteoarthritis, and hip pain, and will reduce the risk of injury for just about every other common running injury!
Contact me if you are ready to feel better and get faster while running!Local Columbus Services Make an Appointment
Additionally, a few references are listed below for those of you who like to read the research:
Form has been linked to ITB and gait retraining has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms and prevent further injury.
Int J Sports Phys Ther. Apr 2014; 9(2): 222–231.
Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during running. Heiderscheit BC, Chumanov ES, Michalski MP, Wille CM, Ryan MB
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Feb; 43(2):296-302.
The effect of real-time gait retraining on hip kinematics, pain and function in subjects with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Noehren, Scholz, Davis.
Br J Sports Med 2011;45:9 691-696
Changing step width alters lower extremity biomechanics during running. Brindle, Milner, Zhang, Fitzhugh.
Gait Posture. 2014 Jan;39(1):124-8