Types of gait analysis

‘Gait Analysis’ is really just a fancy way of saying that somebody is looking at you move, but this can include lots of different methods in a variety of settings. The Run Lab brings you the latest markerless 3D technology, providing laboratory level data with speed and ease, but how does this compare to other types of ‘gait analysis’?

Shoe shop gait analysis

Depending on which shop you go to, they can use a variety of methods to help you to chose your shoes. Common methods include video of your ankle movement to look at ‘pronation’ or looking at arch height and foot shape.

These methods do not reliably predict either injury risk or running economy. A running shop gait analysis is more about helping you to a well fitting pair of shoes, rather than analysing your movement. If you go to a specialist, independent running shop they will be able to make sure you’re in a properly fitting pair of shoes, suitable for the specific distances and surfaces that you’re running on. They’ll also have lots of different styles and brands for you to try (and run in!) alongside one another for comparison. Trying shoes on and running them is the most important bit of a shoe shop ‘gait analysis’ as research shows you’re less likely to get injured in shoes that feel comfortable. For this reason we always recommend buying shoes from running shops rather than online and are proud to be partnered with Personal Best running shop who really know their stuff.

 2D Gait analysis

Cornwall Physio were one of the first places in the UK to combine Physiotherapy with gait analysis. 2D gait analysis will usually be performed by a Physiotherapist, a biomechanist or a running coach. By looking at the way a runner moves we can make assumptions regarding why they’re getting injured and suggest running technique modifications to improve performance. A decent 2D gait analysis will analyse full body movement from the front, back, left and right.

2D imaging relies on a lot of assumptions and interpretations based on how we think things look. We can roughly measure joint angles but we have no idea about the distribution of force…

This type of gait anlaysis can really help with coaching and injury management and has been a big part of Cornwall Physio’s success in treating running injuries. However, 2D imaging relies on a lot of assumptions and interpretations based on how we think things look. We can roughly measure joint angles but we have no idea about the distribution of force that the runner is creating or the direction of the forces applied. The lack of accuracy makes re-testing and measuring degrees of improvement virtually impossible. Also it has major limitations when working with running performance as differences in elite runners movement tend to be more subtle.

3D gait analysis

3D gait analysis is the current gold standard in analysing running mechanics and is how elite runners are usually assessed. 3D imaging has the huge advantage that it allows FORCES to be measured and only by measuring force can we accurately determine running economy and joint loading forces.

3D imaging has the huge advantage that it allows FORCES to be measured and only by measuring force can we accurately determine running economy and joint loading forces.

Our Motion Metrix technology, with it’s ability to create a fully 3D segmentation model of the runner, can measure running economy (stride performance), gait symmetry and joint loading. Previously this level of detail has been impossible with 2D images and was only possible in research laboratories! 3D gait analysis in a laboratory involves markers being placed on each of your joints which are then picked up by multiple cameras and data from each is then synchronised. Motion Matrix is the world’s most complete, marker less motion capture software for runners and provides the same level of detail as traditional 3D systems in much less time. This makes the perfect fit for our running clinic environment.