Running… More Than Meets The Eye!

Most healthcare professionals know that runners are historically poor self-assessors of their running form.  Bade et al suggests that Cross Country and Recreational runners correctly self-identified their foot strike pattern 56.5% and 43.5% of the time.  But are we doing a much better job analyzing gait ourselves?

I am lucky to have a very understanding wife. When we are driving, my head whips around every time I see someone out on a run. My wife knows this is a professional habit, and not that I am “checking out” the girl in the tight pants.

It can be hard to accurately pick out gait deviations while driving by (although there are some people I am tempted to stop and hand them a card!), but I would also argue that it is hard when someone is right in front of you on a treadmill.

Running events happen in milliseconds, and our eyes are not equipped to detect the majority of things we think we are seeing. When we cannot accurately see what is going on, our brain fills in the rest of the information with what we are expecting to see. (Learn more about this here)

Our eyes see approximately 16 frames per second, while most gait cameras are 60 frames per second or faster. Check out the YouTube video below for what a difference higher frame rates really make. (As you watch, think about how big of a difference frame rate would make looking at Initial Contact through Loading Response!)

We could have a long discussion about how some people think that experience and a “good eye” for running form is better than any technology, but I would like to encourage running professionals of all experience level to trust their instincts but verify with some kind of video. (More on 2D versus 3D to come in future blogs!)

We have amazing tools right in our pockets (iPhone 6 or later can shoot 60 frames per second in 1080p), so please take the time to slow running down and see if there is more than meets the eye. I can’t tell you how many times looking at the video showed or verified something for me that made all the difference in getting a runner back to their sport. If you are going to make recommendations on gait, isn’t it worth double-checking you are doing the right thing?

Leave a comment if you have questions or suggestions on apps or cameras that can help you out!