Gait Analysis for Injury Prevention

By: Jon Williams, PT, DPT, COMT, TPI

Have you ever looked at a race photo and wondered “am I using good form?” Or maybe you thought, “I should send this into CARA’s Funny Race Photo Contest!” Well, poor running form can contribute to inefficient and slow running, and can lead to injuries. One of the best ways to correct this is with a Video Gait Analysis(VGA). Let’s face it, whether you are new to running or have a handful or more marathon medals we all want to get better, faster, and more efficient while staying injury free. A Video Gait Analysis performed by a NovaCare Physical Therapist can help identify areas of your running pattern that need to be altered or that can be improved upon.

Video Gait AnalysisThe best running coaches in the world utilize VGAs to help identify even the most minor of discrepancies from ideal running form. By having an expert watch you run in slow motion video, areas of your running which cause you to work too hard or that may cause injury can be identified.

A video gait analysis is an approximately one-hour session at a NovaCare clinic where you will work with a trained physical therapist to discover how to improve your running mechanics and efficiency. A video recording of your gait from different angles will be taken and analyzed using Dartfish© software. Prior to the video recording, you will get a full body running screen looking at strength, flexibility, and posture. All of this information will be analyzed, summarized, and put into a VGA packet including still pictures and video.

Video Gait AnalysisWhy is a VGA useful? Some of the main reasons injured runners end up in my clinic are because of poor mechanics and running form. It can be from over-striding, landing wrong, bouncing too high in the air, or having weakness in muscles that cause your form to deteriorate. The VGA looks at all of these things to help you identify what you may not be able to see/notice on your own while you are running.

The VGA measures your stride angle, drag angle, knee valgus/varus angle, vertical displacement, cadence, strength, flexibility, and many other factors that go into the proper running pattern. Deficits, imbalances, or inconsistencies in one or a number of these measures can cause increased stress and strain on the muscles and joints leading to chronic pain or injuries such as stress fractures. A VGA can not only help to identify these risk factors for injury and keep you on the path/trail/treadmill but can improve your running mechanics and efficiency to make sure that you make it to the finish line as quickly and healthy as possible.

Video Gait AnalysisIf you are interested in getting a video gait analysis and becoming a better runner contact your local NovaCare clinic for pricing and availability. Currently we have three clinics in the downtown Chicago region offering VGA’s; our Lincoln Park Athletic Club location (773-248-2578), our Andersonville location (773-784-9406), and our Union Station location (312-407-0143).

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