December 13th, 2017
Own Your Gait
Your identity is imprinted in the way you move. For athletes, footsteps pack more impact than fingerprints.
When you walk or run, the movement of your limbs defines your gait. No two runners follow the same patterns of motion. Your individuality is encoded in your speed, the length of each step, the way you hold your head and torso.
When you walk, you’re fully grounded. But when you run, you float. Arms provide upward lift. Ankles, knees and hips work in unison to propel you forward. As your right leg swings through the air, your left foot pushes off the ground. For a glorious moment, you’re airborne.
As your right foot connects with the pavement, your muscles manage the landing. Your foot rolls to absorb impact. Your joints flex. Elastic energy builds in your leg muscles. Tendons lengthen, then recoil. When your gait works efficiently, these motions are fluid and natural. But effective movement requires control.
Like artists, runners strive constantly for balance and symmetry. Every step should strike along the same line. Elite athletes seem to move effortlessly down the track; torso upright, balance aligned, toes pointed straight ahead.
But gait isn’t just about the action of the moment. It’s an imprint of your body’s history. Habits, physical traits, and injuries all play a role in shaping the way we move. Instinct and impulse can matter just as much as scoliosis, stiff knees, or leg length disparities.
Whatever the cause, gait abnormalities create unnecessary movements that reduce efficiency. Runners who fail to correct bad habits hinder their athletic performance. And those habits don’t just hold you back— they can grind you out of action.
Gait abnormalities can overstress muscles, joints and bones, increasing the risk of injury. Pushed outside its optimal position, your body becomes less aerodynamic. Muscle imbalances cause stiffness and pain. These inefficiencies waste energy and slow you down.
Don’t expect another athlete’s technique to translate perfectly to your own body. Embrace your difference, but work with it. Get your gait assessed, and work to correct your inefficiencies. Adapt to your own unique formula. Find your grace.
When the race begins, don’t just take your mark. Own your gait, and make your mark.