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Is There Such a Thing Called an Ideal Running Gait?

Due to its relative simplicity, running is often considered to be one of the easiest activities to engage in. As a result, running has become one of the more popular past times of any sports enthusiast, regardless of the generation they were born in. The major popularity over the decades has resulted in many pushing their physical boundaries on the track and on the road. This is very well documented with the ever-improving timings recorded in the Olympic games. An efficient running technique, apart from physical fitness, is one of the primary factors that make for the ideal run. Furthermore, the running gait makes up for more than half of your running technique. Hence, before going into the nitty gritty of it all, let us first understand what a running gait is.

What is a Running Gait?

In simple terms, the running gait is the way your foot moves every time it hits the ground This is not the same for every runner, regardless of whether they are seasoned marathon runners or newbies. According to gait analysis research, there are three known running gaits that occur depending on the physical structure of the athlete. These are supination, pronation, and neutral. Each of these gaits have their pros and cons. Before asking the question on ‘how to improve running gait?’, it is important to first understand these distinctive gaits.

Supination

Supination, sometimes called under pronation, is the rolling motion to the outside edge of your foot with each step. This can be due to several reasons that can range from your physical structure to the shoes you wear. In most cases, however, supination can be traced to the physical structure of the foot. Many supinators often have high, rigid arches that naturally roll the foot outwards. In addition to the natural foot structure, other elements such as the occurrence of ankle injuries, iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis also affect the degree of supination. In many cases, the injuries mentioned are good indicators to know if you are supinator yourself.
Rectifying your gait to minimise the aggravation of injuries may be quite a difficult task. Hence, a conscious effort along with specific footwear is recommended. A temporary treatment for sore legs, which could be caused by the running gait, can be found in Spryng since it eases the muscle tensions in the calf muscles and in the iliotibial bands (IT bands).

Overpronation

Overpronation is the opposite of supination, in which the foot rolls excessively towards the inside edge during each step. The main reason for overpronation is the low arches and flat heels in the foot, which force the foot into landing in such a way. Constant overpronation often leads to stress on the shin area of the legs that lead to shin splints. These at times s can escalate into hairline fractures. Just like the supination, you should be able to understand if your running gait is an overpronation by analysing the aches and pains you feel after a long run.

Most people suffer from overpronation. Since it can be quite hard to change one’s technique, it is important to address the leg cramps while running and injuries that arise due to this gait. SPRYNG has got you covered with its innovative compression wrap that aids in recovery of the legs.

Neutral

This type of gait is considered to be the middle ground of running. This is because a neutral running gait often has bits of pronation and supination mixed in it. In simple terms, this running gait is described as the rolling of the foot slightly outwards in the initial phase of the gait and an eventual inward motion in the latter phase. This makes the impact evenly distributed throughout the foot and up through the entire leg. Here, the big toe and the second toe plays a major part in the stabilisation and push off from the ground. People who have a neutral running gait also have similar injuries to that of overpronators, such as shin splints, and sometimes can experience sore calves while running. However, it is very rare for fatal injuries to occur for individuals having a neutral running gait.
Sometimes, shin splints may cause swelling in the legs, and home remedies such as the Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation method (RICE) is often recommended. However, you can now recover faster with SPRYNG by your side as well! The patent pending pneumatic compression profile of Spryng helps flush out any unwanted of fluid build-up in the legs, expediting the recovery process This will get you back into your running shoes faster.

The Debate

There is a lot that has been researched and discussed among the sporting community about the ideal running gait. These heated debated have come to several varying conclusions, leaving many amateurs unclear as to what the most efficient gait is. Well, the answer is simple. There is no real ideal gait, as it solely depends on the individual and his or her skeletal and muscle structure. In other words, the most efficient gait is your natural gait, and whether you pronate too much or pronate minimally, it does not matter. What matters is that your footwear can cope up with your natural gait.
Researchers argue that the most common injuries such as shin splint and IT band issues are a result of wearing the wrong footwear for your running gait. Stability shoes are recommended to be used by athletes who have an overpronating gait. Those with neutral and supinators are often recommended to wear neutral shoes with lesser stability elements on them.

How to Perform a Simple Gait Analysis Yourself

Now that you know that any gait is good, it is still important to know what type of gait you fall into. For that, you would need to perform a gait analysis. There are many ways of performing such an analysis at home, and one of them is the ‘wet foot test’ that examines your barefoot running gait to ascertain your motion. If you are still sceptical about your gait, do try and look at the worn-out heel of your shoe. This will make it easier to understand how your foot strikes the ground.
However, if you want an accurate check of your running gait, it is highly recommended to participate in a gait analysis conducted by specialty running shoe stores, as they use high tech telemetry to study your movement. By performing such an analysis, you will be able to identify the right shoe for your corresponding gait, reduce the risk of injury, and perform at your best.
In short, you can belong to any of the running gaits and still be an efficient runner. Even if you do ask the question ‘why do my legs hurt when I run?’, remember that it is normal to experience pain after a long run or practice session. There are always remedies to recover from that pain, and SPRYNG certainly does help!