What is a running gait?

BANJAMIN QUEK – You might ask, what exactly is running gait? While running seems to be the simplest sport to execute without much technique involved, it is interesting to see how each runners move from Point A to point B a little differently. Running gait, to put it simply, is the manner of moving on foot, and everyone has a unique gait to allow them to move over ground in an efficient pattern.

What types of running gaits are there?

Running gaits are usually broken down into three types of pronation. Pronation refers to how the foot strikes the ground.

  • Neutral pronation

Neutral pronation takes place when the foot comes in complete contact with the ground and rolls inward about 15 percent to absorb shock. Around 20 to 30 percent of runners have neutral pronation.

  • Underpronation

Underpronation is when the outer part of your heel hits the ground first, and your foot rolls inward at less than 15 percent. The foot naturally supinates during the toe-off stage of your stride as the heel first lifts off the ground, providing leverage to help roll off the toes. However, if supination continues through the toe-off, the weight isn’t transferred to the big toe. This results in all of the work being done by the outer edge of the foot and smaller toes, placing extra stress of the foot. Supination is seen more often in people with high, rigid arches that don’t flatten enough during a stride.

Supination may increase your risk of ankle injury, iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

  • Overpronation

Overpronation occurs when your foot rolls inward more than 15 percent, which can cause stability issues with your foot and ankle. In overpronation, the ankle rolls too far downward and inward with each step. It continues to roll when the toes should be starting to push off. As a result, the big toe and second toe do all of the push off and the foot twists more with each step. Overpronation is seen more often in people with flat feet, although not everyone with flat feet overpronates.

Overpronation leads to strain on the big toe and second toe and instability in the foot. The excessive rotation of the foot leads to more rotation of the tibia in the lower leg, with the result being a greater incidence of shin splints (also called medial tibial stress syndrome) and knee pain. An increased risk of injury and heel pain may also be the result of the stress on the ligaments and tendons of the foot due to overpronation.

How to check your running gait?

There are various ways to determine your running gait. You can:

  1. Get a friend to watch/film from behind when you are running. If the knees are turning inwards, it means you are overpronating. If the knees are turning slightly outwards, it means you are underpronating.
  • Keep track of your pains and aches. By identifying the source of pain, you are roughly able to deduce the type of pronation. For instance, if you are experiencing pain on the inside of your shins and knees, you are likely to overpronate, while if you feel aches in the ankles, it is likely that you are underpronating.
  • Make a wet footprint on a paper shopping bag or a piece of heavy paper and bend your knees significantly to exert the weight of the arch on the paper. This method helps to determine the shape of your arch. High arch means a natural gait and a low arch means an overpronated gait.

Why is analyzing your running gait important?

You do not have to change your running gait. However, it is still important to identify your running gait in order to prevent potential injuries derived from the way you pronate.

For neutral pronation, a pair of neutral shoes such as UA HOVR Sonic is recommended.

For under pronation, you should look for more well-cushioned shoes to absorb the shock of each stride. UA charged bandit 4 will be a good choice.

For over pronation, a runner will need motion control/stability shoes to guide the foot into a proper amount of pronation. UA speedform Europa is an example of such shoes.

Get your running gait analyzed today!

Banjamin Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment.

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