The mysteries of gait analysis

On Monday, I took myself off to the local running shop to get new running shoes. I view the purchase of new running shoes similarly to going to the hairdressers. In principle,it’s so exciting. But in reality, it’s fraught with the danger of making big, expensive mistakes. So I was a little wary!

I headed to RoadRunner Sports for a couple of reasons.They have a 90 day returns policy and I really appreciate the safety net of being able to return them guilt-free if the shoes don’t work out. In addition, I wanted to try their shoe fitting service. After seeing the photo below, I was intrigued to see what my footfall actually looks like.

How am I still standing?
How am I still standing?

In case you wondered, this is NOT a sponsored post. I have no relationship with RRS except as a paying customer.

Since forever, I’ve worn Neutral Plus shoes…neutral because I have high arches, plus because for some reason, this 5’1 girl requires a lot of cushioning.  My current main shoes, the Nike Vomero, have come out with an update that is simply too ugly to wear so I was up for something brand new!

The shoe fitting service was eye-opening. The girl had me running on a treadmill and filmed me, and then slowed the footage down dramatically. Apparently I don’t have high arches, I only have medium arches. (I felt a little offended at this). She then spotted the noticeable weakness in my right ankle from the footage and recommended I wear stability shoes. I was impressed that she noticed the ankle weakness as I hadn’t mentioned it. So instead of being Neutral Plus, I am apparently a Stability girl.

I’m intrigued by this. Have I been wearing the wrong shoes for years, or is this a direct result of my recent ankle woes? Will this change when my ankle gets stronger? If I’d been wearing more supportive shoes in the first place, would I have twisted my ankle so badly in the first place?

I tried on four shoes and it came down to the Asics 2000 2 and the Saucony Guide 7.

I went with Saucony as they just felt better. It’s remarkable how different it feels, running in Stability shoes compared with Neutral Plus. Notably different. My ankles felt very secure and supported, and the toe box is quite snug too, which definitely suits me.

I have that kind of nervous feeling about branching out and wearing such different shoes. I’m definitely a creature of habit; change makes me uncomfortable although I am improving in this respect. So I’ll try these new shoes out, building up my mileage in them carefully and we’ll see what happens. I took them for a gentle 3 miler today and they felt fine, but it’s early days!!

They’re definitely cute, and that’s important, obviously!

Please excuse this dreadful photo of pretty shoes.
Please excuse this dreadful photo of pretty shoes.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    As someone who runs in minimalist shoes, I bet you know what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say it anyway — I don’t believe that you have to run in stability shoes forever. Yes, I think they’ll be good for you right now as your ankle recovers and strengthens, but in the long run (pun not intended), I think it will actually help you to do at least one run a week in low-to-zero drop shoes with minimal cushion, even if it’s just 3 miles around the track (to avoid ankle busters/obstacles), Why? Because minimalist shoes require more foot, ankle, Achilles, and lower calf strength — muscles that get neglected by too-supportive shoes but are *crucial* for balance and support. Real life example: the Gypsy Runner has a long history of sprained ankles, but I don’t think he’s had any problems since switching to minimalist shoes/sandals.

    I’m also biased against shoe salespeople being knowledgeable enough to diagnose your gait. As someone with a bit of knowledge in biomechanics, gait is VERY complicated, and I’d take the nice saleslady’s diagnoses with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to rain on your parade here — of course, you should do whatever you think will work best for you in the end, and I hope you find the best solution!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I agree with a lot of what you said. Running barefoot in fields was recommended for strengthening my ankle so I’ll try that sooner or later! I’m also skeptical of the training of running store salespeople – perhaps unfairly. And I also agree that stability shoes make a lot of sense whilst my ankle strengthens but will probably not be what I need forever! The good thing is that these shoes have less cushioning than my usual mattresses, so that should help me find a better balance!

      1. Jen says:

        Whew – glad we’re mostly on the same wavelength. I was afraid (am always afraid) of getting too preachy. I had actually thought about running barefoot on fields after I left my comment. Plus it feels so nice!

      2. Cathryn says:

        Yeah, I really love that about RRS, I would be much less confident taking such different shoes home without that guarantee!

      3. Cathryn says:

        Preach away…no offense taken here.

  2. Amy says:

    I got my gait analyzed the same way a couple of years ago. We don’t have a RRS, but our local running shop is staffed by elite level runners who need a day job. (I was also analyzed at a different store with a less knowledgeable associate and a less thorough system, so it definitely depends). The information I got from that analysis helped me choose a shoe model, and I’ve been using it without incident for 2 years! I’m also a stability person. I’ve watched myself run in minimalist shoes, and it looks like my ankle is going to snap off!

    1. Cathryn says:

      It’s really interesting, isn’t it. As I said to Jen, I’m not ENTIRELY confident in the knowledge of the girl in the shop but it makes sense that I wear stability shoes at the moment! It’s such a lottery!! If they don’t work out though, I’ll go straight back to neutral plus and be happy again.

  3. Angela says:

    Oooh, pretty laces! The nice thing about RRS is that you can always take them back if they don’t end up working out.

  4. I love sauconey shoes. I’ve been in the ride series for quite awhile now and have not had any issues. I also love going to my running store and having them watch me run. They are great! They also helped me with my gait and relaxing into my runs. It is amazing what fellow runners will do to help you love the sport more. Good Luck with your new shoes.

    1. Cathryn says:

      It’ll be interesting to see how they work out! Wore them again today and they were a little tight so I’ll loosen the laces! Your running store sounds brilliant!!

      1. Love them! I wish they were closer (takes about 45-50 minutest to get there) but it is worth the drive every time!

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