Finding Your Form: Runner’s Gait Assessment

April 16, 2015

Lisa Reinke, a physical therapist with Bellin Health Sports Medicine, writes about running assessments and how they can help:

Have you ever seen yourself run? Do you wonder if you resemble a version of Phoebe from the TV show Friends flailing about down the trail? Or perhaps you feel like you’re running as smooth and speedy as Boston Marathon champ Meb Keflezighi. You may have seen your race day photos, but does one shot really give you enough information about how you run?

When it comes to injury assessment, performance improvement or simply setting yourself up to run healthy for life, video gait assessments are the gold standard for helping runners return to and stay on the road. An assessment can benefit any runner, from newbie to veteran. Here’s how.

What is a Video Gait Assessment?

The word gait refers to the way a person walks or runs. During a video running gait assessment, a runner is videotaped by a high-speed camera as he or she runs at a self-selected speed on a treadmill. This allows experts to evaluate each stride by slowing down the video and observing how the runner moves, frame-by-frame.

At Bellin Health’s Movement Performance Lab, we complete walking and running assessments with state-of-the-art technology in a way no other clinic in the Midwest does. Our SIMI Motion Capture software captures your running at 120 frames per second, capturing every moment of your stride.  These video images help us identify your running strengths and weaknesses, pinpoint what might be causing you pain and look at what portions of your stride might be keeping you from optimal performance.

Click here for a side view of a runner analyzed with our SIMI motion capture software.

What Can I Expect?

When you arrive at the Bellin Health Movement Performance Lab, you will stop at our front desk to register. After you are checked in, you will warm up before starting on the treadmill.

Your assessment will be completed running on our clinic treadmill. Cameras will capture a front view, a side view and a back view of you running. Total running time is brief (around 30 seconds for each view), meaning runners who are having pain won’t have to linger on the treadmill. People who are having trouble later in their runs may be asked to complete some miles prior to coming in. We will advise you prior to your appointment.

After the treadmill, we will conduct strength and flexibility training. If you are seeing a physical therapist, you also will be put through testing related to your specific injury.

After testing, you will sit down with us to analyze each view of your running. We will discuss frame-by-frame what might be contributing to your injury, your inability to increase performance or the pieces that put you at risk for injury. You will be sent home with photos and explanations from your assessment.

As a final step, you will be instructed to perform exercises based on your running assessment and physical testing (as time allows).

Will insurance cover this?

If you have pain that limits both your running and your daily functioning, you can complete a running assessment billed under insurance. This assessment is completed by a licensed physical therapist. You will likely need a referral for physical therapy to complete this evaluation, unless your insurance provider allows for direct access to physical therapy. If you do not have pain with activities outside of running, you run the risk that your insurance will not pay for the analysis. Any insurance copays and deductibles for your insurance may apply.

We also have a cash-based option that allows you to see certified strength and conditioning specialist and running coach Nate Vandervest or licensed athletic trainer and movement performance trained specialist Nick Winkler. Please contact us to inquire on cost.

What do I do after the assessment?

If you are being seen as part of physical therapy, you will likely schedule physical therapy follow-up visits. The number will vary depending on your assessment.

If you are being seen as part of a cash-based assessment, several options are available:

• Complete personal training sessions with running expert Nate Vandervest.

• Complete a more in-depth assessment of your training plan in a follow-up session with Nate.

• Complete on-site movement retraining, in which we utilize state-of-the art technology to help with your movement retraining and performance goals.

Runner Testimonial:

“When I began this program I just wanted to be able to run pain free. The results I achieved were way beyond what I thought was going to happen.  My single-leg balance is amazing; this is pretty cool and actually fun to do! I feel strong when I am running. I feel the strength of my running coming from my back side, where it used to feel like my quad muscle in my left leg was dragging the leg forward.” – Luann G., age 59

How to Schedule:

Call (920) 430-4770 today to set up an appointment with our running experts and movement performance specialists at Bellin Sports Medicine, or feel free to contact me if you are interested in a running assessment.

I look forward to meeting you and helping you reach your running goals. Until then, I wish you continued happiness and health in your training — enjoy every step of your health journey!

Lisa Reinke is a physical therapist with Bellin Sports Medicine who specializes in the treatment of running-related injuries and gait assessments for the injured runner or walker. Lisa has participated in several road races, bike rides and triathlons. Email Lisa at Lisa.Reinke@bellin.org with questions about running- or walking-related injuries.

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