I wouldn’t call myself a runner. But occasionally, I run. In fact, I’ve been a runner off and on over the last 7 years. I say off and on, because I’ve run several 5Ks and one half-marathon. But I don’t run everyday like a lot of folks. So maybe that’s why I never gave much thought to the shoes I wear when I do run. (FULL CONFESSION: I only have two requirements when I shop for sneakers… 1. They must be cute. 2. They must be on sale.) But that may have led to some problems with my ability to run. In fact, many people told me my sneakers could be part of the knee problems I’ve had! So, on the advice of my trainer – and many of you! – I decided it was time to get my gait checked. And just in time too, since I’m training for the Run to the Shrine at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on May 21st.
So – first off – what is a gait check? I anticipated someone watching me run on a treadmill and determining the best kind of sneaker for my steps. But I found out… it’s much more than that! And that’s a good thing, because as we all know, there are tons of sneakers to choose from.
I met up with Shawn Finley at Boulder Running Company on Austin Bluffs. He would be the person helping me find the right shoe. The first thing we talked about was my running experience and my goals. And we also talked about why shoes are so important for runners. “Shoes are so essential because they are truly the linkage point between you and the ground,” Shawn said. “They absorb and deflect shock. Clearly, they protect the foot from the surface but the most important aspect of footwear is the stability they give to those that need it.”
And the pic below shows the contraption that helps them find the right shoe. Yes, it’s a treadmill. But there’s a video camera too! I didn’t expect that!
“The gait analysis is so much more than just the process on the treadmill,” said Shawn. “Videotaping a customer on the treadmill is a valuable tool because we are watching you run. We can slow down the recording frame by frame and show a customer what is truly going on throughout the entire run cycle, from the striking point to the toe off.”
And that’s just what Shawn looked at when I got on the treadmill. But before I even started running – he asked if I’d ever hurt my right foot! I thought – what a funny question! But then… I realized I’d broken that foot in the 6th grade. That’s right! The 6TH GRADE!! And he could see that!!! I had to ask – how did you do that???
“It is integral that we are able to see past injuries, etc,” says Shawn. “They can really play a big part in analyzing gait. I noticed that your 1 foot (I believe your right) was internally rotated and sometimes these (all be it minor) injuries can show up in current aches and pains.”
He also says they concentrate on one side of the body as they watch a runner. “We look for pronation/supination, unique running styles (running with 1 foot in front of the other), as well as where people plant their foot initially and where they toe off. Specific injuries as well as blisters also tell a story of their own.”
So, beyond my 6th grade injury, what else did he see with my run? It turns out… I pronate! My first response was – huh?! Shawn told me “a pronated foot is one in which the heel bone angles inward and the arch of the foot tends to collapse inward. It is the opposite of supination.” So there ya go!
And NOW we had our starting point. We knew the challenges my running style brought to the table and now Shawn could help me find a good shoe that would address those issues! We tried on several pairs of sneakers. And he watched my run in each of them. We narrowed it down to two, based on what kept me running well and what felt comfortable. And then between the two… I picked the cutest pair! Finding the right pair was very much a team effort between me and Shawn.
Check out the difference!!! The pic on the left is my BEFORE shot with my old sneakers. The pic on the RIGHT is my AFTER shot with the new pair. Can you believe that?!?! It’s a wonder I didn’t break something, running all crazy like that!
I’ve had my new shoes for about two weeks now. And I love them! My knee is feeling better. And I really notice a difference in the way my legs feel afterward. And Shawn says I can expect that to continue!
“Customers will see the ability to run pain free,” he said. “There is nothing more de-motivating than to be in pain. We all know that consistency is the name of the game in running and we strive to have passion in your soles, not pain!”
And now, I can strive for that too!