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Gait Analysis: How It Changed My Run

Posted by Jessica Blomstrom on

Gait analysis is free at any Sports Basement! No appointment needed.

Visit the shoe department at any of our stores and ask a shoe specialist for a gait analysis. Be prepared to take off your shoes & socks then get to walkin'. We'll also ask you to go for a (short!) run throughout the store so you can test-ride a pair of shoes or two . And don't worry about forgetting socks, we've got a bin of clean try-on socks you can use!

But what's it really like? Let one of our very own staffers give you her moment-by-moment experience:

Hi. I work at Sports Basement, so it would be really fair of you, dear reader, to assume that I am fit and I eat really well and I know all about triceps and glutes or whatever. And that's actually a pretty fair assumption to make about most of our staffletes, but alas, I live on the other side of that bell curve. Still, I love yoga, I love SUP when I can get around to it, I love hiking and swimming and cycling too. But here's the thing - I really don't love running. And I want to. But I can't. And that's weird. After all, we live in the most temperate, beautiful place in the world (nothing else could explain these housing costs) and there's an entire Bay-spanning trail to run on and all these gorgeous parks and it doesn't even rain that much (not a good thing in general, but that's kind of a pro when it comes to outdoor running) and honestly, there's no reason why I shouldn't relish going for a run. But I don't.

I determined that the problem must lie not with my environment, but with me. There must be something fundamentally wrong with my legs. It's the only thing that makes sense. I went for a run on Sunday and lemme tell ya, I only ran about 3 miles and I was spent. SPENT. My legs were aching, my lungs felt like pizza ovens, and then I couldn't stop thinking about pizza ovens, and the pizzas they contain, but my legs were like: “Hah! If you want pizza you better learn to crawl 'cause we are not gonna support you any longer.” Needless to say, I didn't get pizza. Monday wasn't my best day.

I'm walking (hah) into work and my wonderful coworkers see me in dire straits and ask me how I managed to age 5 years in one weekend. I explain my running issues (double hah) and they suggested I have a gait analysis. Now: I know what a gait analysis is because I work at Sports Basement, but you might not. A gait analysis, in short, is when a running professional analyzes your footfall and the way your stride works, to see what kind of running shoes would be best for you. (You can check out the long version of a gait analysis here!)I was aware of the existence of a gait analysis, but I've never actually seen one performed, much less had one performed on me. Here's how it went:

That's Kat an incredible stafflete and pro gait analyzer who works at
our Berkeley store!

Kat Hagood, stafflete and lead of the shoes department at our Berkeley store, spared a few minutes of her day to help my poor soul (and soles). She first had me take my shoes off and just stand there in front of her. She stared at my feet. I apologized for my mismatched socks. She complimented them anyway. She's a kind soul. She then had me do a couple squats, feet at hip distance. I raised an eyebrow but complied. She then asked me to walk 10 feet, turn around and walk back, then run 30 feet (still barefoot), turn around and run back again.

"What injury did you have on the right, there?" She asked me when I returned, like she was some kind of physical injury fortune teller. I told her about the multiple hip strains I'd had from my yoga days (I used to be a bit over-enthusiastic during yoga) and she nodded. "Yeah, that explains it. You over-pronate, especially on the right." She asked me about the shoes I'm currently wearing (the Brooks Ghost 9). She grabbed me a pair of Adrenalines in my size, in both a regular and wide width. As I was lacing them up, she explained that the squats were to measure my (rather lackluster, since I stopped doing yoga) core strength. She explained that core strength makes a huge difference for your running form and can help correct over-pronation as well. She pushed down on my toes to make sure the Adrenalines fit correctly, and sent me off to run around the store. Of course I wanted to show off, so I ran way faster than I usually do and kinda got in over my head when I started heading back and she told me to keep going. For like 2 minutes. I was winded by the end, but kindly pretended not to notice. She's a real winner.

We talked about how those shoes fit, and she put me in a few other higher stability shoes, in different widths with different heel-toe drops. I ran around in each of them (slowing down and shortening my stride a bit - I learn from my mistakes). I ended up going with the Adrenalines in a wide width because hey, my feet like Brooks, and in the wide width my toes had a bit more wiggle room, which felt really nice. I would never have considered a wide width shoe if she hadn't brought them out to me.

But here's the really crazy part - I went for a run later that day on the same exact route that had punished me so severely on Sunday, and the difference was astounding. I could feel my feet hitting the pavement differently. At first it was disconcerting, feeling my ankles and arches balance the weight of my body differently than they had for so long, but after a mile or so I started to notice how my calves seemed springier, my thighs felt stronger, my core was tightening up and my lungs weren't immediately turning into pizza ovens. I'm not gonna tell you how slow my pace was because I don't want you to laugh at me, but I was feeling strong enough that I kept going once I'd looped back to my house. I accidentally ran a 5k! I thought I'd have to train to get to that point, and I was hoping to start training for a 5k once I had gotten used to these shoes, but I did it completely on accident! My feet gave me strength, and they gave me a whole extra mile.

And yeah, I was sore, and my foam roller got some serious use, but it was that good sore you get after accomplishing something, not that oh-lord-please-don't-tighten-up-and-turn-into-an-actual-injury sore you get after tripping on a rock and doing a somersault up a hill in San Bruno Mountain State Park. Not that that's ever happened to me. (Pro tip: if you're gonna go trail running, wear something that's meant for trail running. Don't wear your 5 year old treadmill shoes). Speaking of trail running, I think I'm gonna go get fitted for some of those bad boys next. Redwood Regional Park, I'm comin' for ya.

Our gait analyzers will help find your running sole-mate.

Wanna see how slow I am? You might catch me (and quickly pass me) at SB Berkeley's Fun Run on Thursdays. Want to have your gait professionally analyzed? We've got pros at every Sports Basement store that would be happy to help you out. The analysis is totally free, and you don't have to buy anything - we really just want you to know your stride, so you can run better for longer.


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