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Q: What is gait analysis?

A: Gait refers to movement during walking or running. Analysis of these movement patterns can be either observational or objective. An example of observational gait analysis is watching video of a runner and making inferences about what is normal and abnormal. Objective gait analysis involves the use of cameras linked to sophisticated software that measure and calculate the exact movement of various points on the body. The data obtained in this manner can be used to determine with a high degree of scientific certainty movement patterns that are outside of accepted norms.


Q: How does injury relate to my running style?

A: The concept of running style or form is a hot topic in the running community. While there are benefits to certain running styles, these benefits must be carefully measured against their costs. The medical literature does not support changing a runner’s form in an effort to treat or prevent injuries. Refinements in a runner’s form can be useful, but only when improper biomechanics are first addressed. Think of it this way. If your car had a mechanical problem, would driving your car differently solve the underlying issue? Obviously not. So while changing your running form may reduce stresses and ease pains, it is not a reliable method of treating running injuries. So, what is biomechanics. Simply, it’s the manner in which your body moves, but involves factors such as: strength, flexibility, alignment, and anatomy. There is no one perfect running style, but research has helped identify certain movement patterns that make a runner more prone to injury and other movement patterns that improve performance and reduce the chances of injury. A 3D Gait analysis will identify movement patterns that lead to injury.


Q: What type of clothing should I wear to my gait analysis?

A: It is important to come dressed in running clothes that form to the body. Loose or baggy clothing will obscure the markers placed onto your hips, pelvis, and legs. Keep in mind, we aren’t video taping you for the whole world to see, but rather our cameras and software are measuring the movement of markers placed on your body. Therefore, the exam is very modest and we respect the privacy of all our clients. Typically, tight running shorts or running tights, bicycle shorts, and fitted or compression shirts work best. No-show socks, or socks that do not extend above the ankle bones, help with the placement of markers there. Bring your regular running shoes and if you use orthotics, bring them along as well.


Q: How long does a gait examination take?

A: We generally budget 30-45 minutes for each client. In some cases, we may take extra time to measure runners at various paces, especially for individuals who train or race at faster speeds. In the end, we take as much time as needed for a full and accurate measurement of your running biomechanics.


Q: What is the cost of a gait analysis?

A: The Clinical 3D Gait Analysis cost is $250 for a single examination and $350 for a two examination package (for use by the same individual). A second examination is often used several weeks or months down the road in order to measure progress and refine treatment. We also offer discounts for groups of 3 or more. Please contact us to learn more about a group rate.


Q: What forms of payment do you accept?

A: We accept all major credit cards, debit cards, health savings cards, cash, and check.


Q: What are the best shoes for running?

A: Everyone’s feet are unique and there is no one best shoe for everyone. Running shoes are categorized into minimalist, neutral, stability, and motion control categories. The vast majority of runners are best served by a neutral shoe. Those with some injuries or foot types (pronators for example) are better served with a stability shoe. Motion control shoes should be used by those with specific foot alignment or motion problems. Research has demonstrated higher injury rates in runners with normal foot posture and who use stability or motion control shoes. Therefore, we recommend reserving stability and motion control shoes for those who have specific needs. See our clinic for more information about your foot type. As a general rule, use “fit” and “comfort” as your guide to selecting the best shoe for your feet.


Q: What are the best shoes for walking?

A: A running shoe tends to be the ideal shoe for those serious about walking for exercise.


Q: What are the differences between a running shoe and a walking shoe?

A: Essentially, a walking shoe is very similar to a running shoe except it often has more leather in the upper (portion of the shoe around your foot).


Q: Is barefoot running better than running in shoes?

A: The short answer is no. There is no evidence that barefoot running either decreases or increases your chances of an injury, only that running barefoot creates different forces and movement patterns than running in shoes. Further research is needed in this area before a sound recommendation can be provided. There is general agreement in the literature and medical community that transitioning to a barefoot running style should be gradual, typically 7-9 months.


Q: Are minimalist shoes a better choice for a runner than traditional shoes?

A: Much like barefoot running, the short answer is no. There is no evidence-based method for recommendation of specific shoe types to either prevent or treat running-related injuries. There is emerging evidence that forces in the lower extremity, including the foot and ankle, are different when running in a minimalist shoe. However, there is a lack of good evidence that these changes consistently reduce injury rates. If you choose to transition to a minimalist style shoe, the transition should take place gradually over a period of weeks or months.


Q: Is running in a minimalist shoe the same as running barefoot?

A: The evidence from research on this topic is pretty clear – no, running barefoot and in minimalist shoes are not the same. Even shoes with soles as thin as 2 mm do not fully duplicate barefoot running. The larger question, which is a subject of debate, is whether running barefoot is superior to running in shoes. The current evidence does not support that conclusion. As more research on this topic is published, the better our understanding will become regarding the benefits and drawbacks of using minimalist shoes and barefoot running. As it appears now, we are only scratching the surface on these topics.


Q: What are the differences between heel striking, midfoot striking, and forefoot striking patterns?

A: Foot strike patterns identify the first part of your foot to contact the ground. Foot contact is divided into three types: heel strike (most runners), midfoot strike (style of most elite runners), and forefoot strike (best for acceleration, sprinting, and running uphill, but associated with more injuries if used for distance running). Greater than 90% of recreational runners strike the ground first with their heel. There are differences in the forces exerted on the body with each of these running styles. However, there is a lack of agreement in the medical literature about whether these forces are the direct cause of injury. Forced changes to a runner’s natural foot contact pattern has been shown to reduce running economy (essentially the gas mileage for a runner). Therefore, it is best to let your foot contact pattern naturally evolve as you run and train.