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Published on April 25, 2018

Nathan Schwab having gait analysis

Get Elite Runner Treatment with a 3-D Gait Analysis

Local runner Nathan Schwab created a 3-D version of himself during a recent run at Avera Sports. Seventy-five markers were attached to his body and eight cameras recorded his movements.

The goal: to see if his running form needed tweaks.

“One of the easiest things ways to improve running performance is to improve running economy,” said Derek Ferley, PhD, Director of Sports Science Research at Avera Sports. “It comes down to how efficient are you when you run."

The Treadmetrix treadmill uses computer-generated imagery technology borrowed from the movie and video game industry. The markers created a 3-D image of Schwab to analyze his body biomechanics and the force of his foot hitting the treadmill. These are important factors when trying to avoid injuries or to recuperate from injury or surgery.

The new technology provides a high level of detail rarely available to the general public. Avera Sports is the only program in the region to offer this technology used by running powerhouses like the Nike Sport Research Lab.

Schwab is an avid runner with periodic injuries. He's wanted to do such an analysis for a while.

“This is something that usually professional athletes use but an average guy like me can walk off the street and get detailed analysis on my running and how to go to the next level,” Schwab said.

The Treadmetrix records some key information:

  • Ground reaction force in three dimensions: Once your foot hits the ground you absorb force that moves through your body. “We’re able to look at what’s going on in the ankle, knee and the hip and determine whether that force is centrally focused for the best efficiency,” Ferley said.
  • Foot strike and cadence: Heel strikers, for instance, can run into knee, shin and hip issues if they over-stride. Maintaining proper cadence can help shorten strides and also maintain efficiencies. Most athletes aim for 180-190 strides per minute, Ferley said.
  • Gait metrics: The report measures certain movements such as pelvic drop, hip extension, position of the foot at foot strike, if your foot rolls in or out, and knee flexion.

Ferley then can suggest improvements, which could be different shoes, physical therapy, changes to form, or strength training. For Schwab, Ferley detected a heel strike and tightness on his right side in the hips, quads and hamstring.

Schwab is now doing more stretching and strengthening for the hips, core and glutes and continues to see a chiropractor. He’s interested in doing another analysis with different shoes to see if that makes a difference.

“It was nice to see some validation of what my chiropractor said was my issue leading to lower back pain and seeing how it affects my running, too,” Schwab said.

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