At Wright Physical Therapy we are experts in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives and can help runners improve performance, prevent injury, and get back to running.
If you are a runner, and you are looking to improve your technique and form, or if you are struggling with balance issues and looking to improve your gait, you have come to the right place. At Wright Physical Therapy, we are experts in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives and can help improve performance, prevent injury, and get back to moving the way you want.
If you are interested in improving your gait, whether it’s for walking, running, or balance purposes, contact our Idaho physical therapy office today. Our licensed physical therapists can help you reach your personal goals!
What Is A Gait Assessment?
If you frequently notice an imbalance, dizziness, or unsteadiness that makes you feel as if you may fall over at any given time, it is a sign that you may be living with a gait disorder. Gait issues typically develop from one of the following conditions:
Injury or ailment
Even if your brain and nervous system are working in harmony with one another, a sudden injury, disease, or other ailment causing muscle weakness can interfere with your balance and make it difficult to keep yourself upright.
This may include Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, or stroke. Anything that affects your neurological system can also impact your balance.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
This occurs when calcium debris breaks off in the inner ear, causing issues with balance.
Our gait assessments will determine 1) if you are living with a gait disorder, and 2) what the root cause of your gait disorder is.
If our Idaho physical therapist determines that you are indeed living with a gait disorder, he or she will get you started on a gait training treatment plan. Gait training will include activities to not only improve gait mechanics, but also increase your confidence and safety in navigating across different terrains and around different obstacles. Our physical therapist will also evaluate your need for an assistive device, or perhaps make modifications to a device you are currently using.
Both static and dynamic balance training will likely also be incorporated into your physical therapy treatment to help your body learn how to better respond to environmental challenges to your balance. For example, you may be asked to stand on one leg while performing a mentally-challenging task, such as reciting the alphabet or reading a paragraph of text out loud. Our physical therapist will also teach you balance strategies to help mitigate fall risk.
Endurance training may also be used, not just to improve muscle endurance for activity, but also to improve aerobic capacity for activity, both of which will reduce fatigue as a risk factor for falls when walking or completing daily tasks.
What is a Running Analysis?
We offer injury assessment, treatment, and training that’s designed specifically for the unique needs of runners. Our physical therapists identify weak points throughout the running cycle. By filming your running pattern and examining your alignment, they are able to see where to strengthen certain muscles, adjust form, improve shoe wear, or reduce impact in order to become a more efficient runner.
This form of diagnostic testing can evaluate several parts of your body at once, such as:
- Pelvic control
- Foot strike
- Base of support
- Vertical displacement
Benefits of Running Analysis
Developing muscle strength and aerobic capacity have benefits in the long term. Most runners live longer than non-runners. According to a 21-year study, runners have longer lifespans and are less likely to develop a disability. What’s more, the downsides aren’t as bad as previously thought. Many runners think they’ll pay for abusing their knees, but studies show runners are no more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee than non-runners. If you understand and maintain proper form, your risk diminishes even further.
Proper Training and Common Mistakes
Myth 1: Recovery is a break from training.
Recovery time isn’t a break from training, it is part of it. Runners, particularly those at the Masters (40+) level, can consider taking recovery time every third week instead of every fourth week during a marathon training program. Consider using cross training, such as the elliptical or bike, to substitute for recovery runs to give your legs a break. This allows you to rest your legs while remaining on track for a successful race.
Myth 2: Push through the pain.
Runners know how to handle pain. But how do you determine what pain is normal and what is cause for alarm? Muscle soreness that eases as you run can be normal. However, pain you should be concerned about may have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Pain that does not subside within several hours after running.
- On a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being worse pain), pain that exceeds 3 while running. The onset of sharp pain.
- Pain that wakes you up at night.
- Persistent pain that worsens when you run.
- Pain that persists in the same area, every time you run.
A physical therapist can help determine the cause of the problem and recommend effective cross training exercises, identify when poor form may be contributing to your pain, and prescribe necessary changes in training to allow the body to repair itself. Read more about dealing with an injury on page.
Myth 3: You can zone out on a run.
Running can clear your mind and provide stress relief. However, thinking about your form while running can help you make subtle improvements. Listen to how you run! Notice how you strike the ground. Does it sound the same on both sides, or is one foot strike louder? Notice where your foot lands relative to your body. Is it in front of you, or relatively underneath you, which is often less stressful? Recognize that as you fatigue, your form is more likely to be compromised. Usually when a runner’s form is compromised mechanical stress increases and injury can soon follow.
Get started on your assessment today!
Do you think you could benefit from a running or gait assessment? Contact Wright Physical Therapy today! Schedule now with one of our Idaho physical therapists, so you can get started on the first steps to running and moving at your best ability!
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