Finding the Right Running Shoes: Importance of Holistic Gait Analysis

Training for a marathon requires much attention to very specific details – what is the terrain? What will the temperature be? How many attempts will I have to hydrate along the way? Who will be running and how many people will there be? What attire should I consider wearing? And, maybe most importantly, what pair of shoes should I run in?

Most who attempt to run a marathon begin with finding the best pair of sneakers. Who would blame them? Training in a good pair of shoes potentially will protect your body from injury. Yep, you read that right – your entire body. Shoes do not just protect your feet though they do a good job at that, too!

Recently, WTOP blogger, Paula Wolfson, published an article about her journey toward running the Marine Corp Marathon. She chronicles her training ventures and references a “Wolfson Team” of experts that are helping her along the way. However, most importantly, is the YouTube video she posted toward the end, which shows her picking out that perfect shoe.

Go ahead and take a look at the video, it is important you see this before I explain to you why this is not the whole picture, nor the entire truth.

Paula Wolfson New Shoes

In the video the employee has Wolfson first walk barefoot on the floor. Based on that initial analysis, he fits her for a pair of shoes. From there he analyzes her gait by having her run on a treadmill while he stands behind her. Unfortunately, there are two major flaws in his method to determine what shoes were appropriate. First, there is a major difference between walking barefoot on a hard surface, which offers no credible information as to what a persons gait may look like while running in shoes. Second, putting a client on a treadmill with a camera focused on their feet from behind creates an optical illusion. It makes it appear the persons feet are overpronating 70% of the time. In reality, however, when we view the same thing from the front we see only 35% of runners demonstrating excessive motion.

You read that correctly: 65% of runners demonstrate a neutral gait.

That is a HUGE difference.

Furthermore, this method of gait analysis, focusing a camera on the heel of a shoe, is most easily misinterpreted. It’s like looking at a blade of grass through a microscope and guessing what the entire forest may look like. Gait analysis is a whole body procedure. A more complete and accurate method is to observe the entire body in motion, not just the heel.

As a result of a misdiagnosis, many people develop problems with their stance, with their feet, back, neck, etc., which inhibits their ability to enjoy running and training. If you are having problems, give us a call. We’ll analyze your gait in a holistic way {from the front, sides and back} and get you fitted for the perfect pair of shoes. This will ensure you can have fun running and will reduce the probability of injury.

WTOP – BLOG:One Step at a time – A journey to the Marine Corps Marathon

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