What You Can’t Google About Your Running
Runners are turning to the internet more than ever to improve their running. Whether they need advice on the right pair of shoes, exercises to improve performance, or ways to manage an injury, a Google search is typically the first avenue runners utilize to find answers. Although a Google search provides ample content, runners often have a difficult time implementing that content because they don’t know what their running mechanics look like, and they don’t know how their strength or flexibility (or lack of it) affects those mechanics. Without that knowledge, it is nearly impossible for a runner to make the right choices about footwear, exercise, injury management, or any other aspect of their running for that matter. They are running blind, and for once, Google can’t help.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Most would attest that this saying rings true, and a video that reveals a runner’s mechanics is no different. Every day, in clinics across the country, running specialists film runners in motion, evaluate mechanics with still shots of high-definition video, and correlate findings with strength and flexibility tests that are performed in the clinic. This process of analyzing a runner’s mechanics is called a video gait analysis, and it is quickly becoming the gold standard by which specialists evaluate running mechanics and diagnose injuries in runners. In a matter of minutes, a video gait analysis shows exactly where a runner stands with respect to form, strength, and flexibility – the good and the bad. A video gait analysis also shows exactly why a given injury exists and provides answers to virtually any question that a runner may have regarding footwear, exercise, or injury management. If a runner wants to know if a certain pair of shoes sufficiently corrects pronation, which muscle groups to target with exercise to improve form, or why hip pain presents after a few miles of running, a quick reference to a video gait analysis will provide the answers.
For the Cost of a Pair of Shoes
Advances in technology are making video gait analysis more accessible, and runners are reaping the benefits. In the past, it took several hours and thousands of dollars of technology for a running specialist to analyze a runner’s mechanics. Today, for the price of a pair of running shoes, a running specialist can perform a video gait analysis over a lunch hour. It only takes a short amount of time for a running specialist to understand a runner’s mechanics and create a plan to improve performance or manage an injury. Runners leave an analysis empowered with knowledge of their mechanics and equipped to implement strategies that will help them on their very next run.
It Doesn’t Stop There, and Neither Do Runners
With the amount of information that medical providers learn during a video gait analysis with an injured runner, it is not surprising that injuries are diagnosed more accurately. What is surprising, however, is the way that video gait analysis is changing the way medical providers manage those injuries after a diagnosis. They encourage runners to continue running. Historically, if a runner with a complaint of pain went to a physician, the prescription would almost always entail a component of rest, which means that a runner had to stop running. Those are fightin’ words for many. Luckily for runners (and their physicians), video gait analysis is allowing medical providers to change that approach. Since video gait analysis shows exactly which deficits in a runner’s mechanics contribute to a given injury, it gives both the runner and medical provider confidence to allow runners to continue to run while they “actively rest” a painful structure. Medical providers guide runners through the rehabilitation process as they implement changes in form, strength, or flexibility to reduce stress on painful structures.
Not only does this process accelerate recovery, it allows runners to maintain mileage and muscle memory that otherwise would have been lost during a period of inactivity. Video gait analysis literally allows runners to manage injuries on the run.
With the availability of video gait analysis and the amount of information one provides, every runner has the potential to understand their running mechanics well. Runners who know their mechanics are able to train more efficiently, respond to injury more quickly, and have longevity with the sport. They have the ability to select shoes that complement their form, perform exercises to target their weak spots, and manage injuries according to their disposition. Technology is making runners smarter and more efficient, and running specialists are helping runners find those answers that Google can’t provide.