To improve their running techniques, pick the perfect training machines, and find the ideal pairs of shoes, many runners take advantage of gait analyses. Many running stores offer this service, and they usually mean well. However, for the following reasons, this method is unscientific and woefully antiquated.
Many establishments that offer gate analysis classify the arches of feet. In many cases, to have this test performed, people stand on a pad that detects heat.
This system includes three categories. Runners who have “low arches” are instructed to purchase motion control shoes. Those with “normal arches” get stability shoes. Finally, people with “high arches” are assigned shoes with extra cushioning.
The main problem here is that this kind of analysis isn’t thorough. Runners have a wide range of needs when it comes to their shoes, and there’s much more to the human foot than the shape of its arch.
Not to mention, arches behave differently when they’re in motion. Thus, two people with high arches won’t necessarily benefit from the same kind of shoe or the same type of training machine.
What about the technique of videoing a person’s feet as he or she runs? It might sound like a productive research method. In truth, though, this procedure yields few details of value.
A running authority can watch one of these videos to see if someone’s arches remain too high or drop too low when he or she puts weight on them. An individual whose arches are too high is an oversupinator. A person whose arches are too low is an overpronator.
As you might suspect, though, those two labels aren’t very informative. After all, many other factors also determine how fast a person can run and whether that individual is vulnerable to foot injuries.
Even if you found out that you suffer from, say, overpronation, a gait analysis wouldn’t tell you what to do to correct the problem. To take the proper course of action, you’d need to know the origin of your overpronation.
Perhaps it’s the case that the front of your feet are pointing too far outward as you run. Maybe your heels don’t quite strike the ground correctly. Or maybe the curves of your arches are causing this issue. In any event, to figure it out, you’d need to have other kinds of tests conducted.
So many parts of your body ― as well as the ways in which they interact with each other ― have an impact on the effectiveness and safety of your running. Your posture and the way you move your legs, arms, and hips affect the condition of your feet.
Therefore, unless an expert looks at your entire body as you run, it’s hard to draw accurate conclusions and make effective recommendations. Most running store gait analysis measures, then, are simply deficient.