Your Running Gait: What It Is and Why It Matters

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Running is a popular form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. However, did you know that your running gait, or the way your feet strike the ground while running, plays a crucial role in your performance and injury prevention? Understanding your running gait can help you optimize your running technique and choose the right running shoes for your needs.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of identifying your running style, discuss the different types of running gaits, explore how your running gait affects your performance and risk of injuries, and provide tips on evaluating and adjusting your running technique. Additionally, we will guide you on selecting the appropriate running shoes for your gait and offer insights on how to improve your running form for optimal results.

So, let’s lace up our shoes and dive into the world of running gait!

The Importance of Identifying Your Running Style

Identifying your running style, or gait, is essential as it helps you understand how your body moves while running. It involves analyzing the way your feet strike the ground, the alignment of your ankles, knees, and hips, and the overall movement patterns of your body. By determining your running gait, you can address any issues or imbalances that may be present, leading to improved performance and reduced risk of injuries.

Overpronation, Supination, or Neutral: What’s Your Gait?

There are three primary types of running gaits: overpronation, supination (also known as underpronation), and neutral pronation. Let’s explore each of these in more detail:

  1. Overpronation:
  2. Supination (Underpronation):
    • Supination is the opposite of overpronation and happens when the foot rolls outward upon landing.
    • This gait pattern creates a higher impact on the outer edge of the foot, leading to potential issues like ankle sprains and stress fractures.
    • Individuals with high arches often experience supination.
  3. Neutral Pronation:
    • Neutral pronation is the ideal gait pattern, characterized by a slight inward roll of the foot upon landing.
    • This gait distributes the impact evenly, reducing stress on the feet and lower limbs.
    • Runners with medium arches typically exhibit a neutral gait.

Determining your running gait can be done through various methods, including gait analysis performed by a professional or observing your shoe wear pattern. Understanding your gait type will help in choosing appropriate footwear and implementing corrective measures if necessary.

How Your Running Gait Affects Performance and Injury Risk

Your running gait significantly impacts your running performance and injury risk. Let’s explore the effects of each gait type:

  1. Overpronation:
    • Overpronators have an increased risk of injuries due to the excessive inward rolling motion of the foot.
    • The imbalanced foot mechanics can lead to instability and reduced shock absorption, which may hinder performance.
    • Choosing shoes with stability or motion control features can help correct overpronation and decrease the likelihood of injuries.
  2. Supination (Underpronation):
    • Supinators experience a higher impact on the outer edge of the foot, leading to potential discomfort and injuries.
    • The limited shock absorption and reduced stability may result in decreased performance.
    • Cushioned shoes with flexibility are recommended for supinators to provide adequate support and shock absorption.
  3. Neutral Pronation:

It is essential to identify your gait type and choose appropriate running shoes to optimize performance and minimize the chance of injuries.

Evaluating and Adjusting Your Running Technique

Now that you have determined your running gait, it’s time to evaluate and potentially adjust your running technique. Proper running form can improve efficiency, reduce fatigue, and minimize the risk of injuries. Here are some tips to help you evaluate and adjust your running technique:

  1. Posture:
    • Maintain an upright posture with a slight forward lean from the ankles.
    • Avoid slouching or leaning backward.
  2. Cadence:
    • Aim for a cadence (steps per minute) of around 180.
    • Shorter, quicker strides can reduce the impact on your joints.
  3. Foot Strike:
  4. Arm Swing:
    • Keep your arms relaxed and bent at approximately 90 degrees.
    • Swing them forward and backward, not side to side, to maintain balance and rhythm.
  5. Breathing:
  6. Gradual Progression:

By paying attention to these aspects of your running technique and making necessary adjustments, you can enhance your running efficiency and reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Choosing the Right Running Shoes for Your Gait

Selecting appropriate running shoes tailored to your gait type is vital for optimal comfort and injury prevention. Here are some key considerations when choosing running shoes:

  1. Overpronation:
    • Look for stability or motion control shoes with supportive features.
    • These shoes provide pronation control and help maintain proper foot alignment.
  2. Supination (Underpronation):
    • Opt for cushioned shoes with ample shock absorption properties.
    • These shoes provide extra support and cushioning for the high-impact outer edge of the foot.
  3. Neutral Pronation:
    • Choose neutral cushioned shoes or stability shoes.
    • These shoes strike a balance between cushioning and support, catering to the needs of neutral runners.

It is advisable to visit a specialty running store or consult with a professional to determine the most suitable shoes for your gait type. They can provide expert guidance based on your individual needs and running goals.

Improving Your Running Form for Optimal Results

Improving your running form can lead to enhanced performance and reduced risk of injuries. Here are some additional tips to help you optimize your running technique:

  1. Strength Training:
  2. Flexibility and Mobility:
    • Implement a regular stretching routine to maintain flexibility and mobility.
    • Pay attention to stretching the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps.
  3. Cross-Training:
    • Engage in cross-training activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga.
    • Cross-training helps improve overall fitness, prevents overuse injuries, and provides variety to your training routine.
  4. Listen to Your Body:

By integrating these tips into your training regimen and consistently focusing on improving your running form, you can optimize your performance and reduce the risk of injuries.


Q1: What is a running gait?

A1: Running gait refers to the way your feet strike the ground and the overall movement patterns of your body while running.

Q2: How do I identify my running gait?

A2: You can identify your running gait through methods such as gait analysis performed by a professional or observing your shoe wear pattern.

Q3: Can my running gait affect my performance?

A3: Yes, your running gait significantly impacts your running performance. A balanced gait promotes efficiency, while imbalances may hinder performance.

Q4: Can my running gait increase the risk of injuries?

A4: Yes, certain running gait patterns can increase the risk of injuries. Overpronation and supination, in particular, can lead to various foot and lower limb injuries.

Q5: How can I adjust my running technique?

A5: Evaluating and adjusting your running technique involves focusing on aspects such as posture, cadence, foot strike, arm swing, breathing, and gradual progression.

Q6: What type of running shoes should I choose for overpronation?

A6: For overpronation, stability or motion control shoes with supportive features are recommended to help control pronation and maintain proper foot alignment.

Q7: Are there specific shoes for supination?

A7: Yes, individuals with supination should opt for cushioned shoes with ample shock absorption properties to provide support and cushioning for the outer edge of the foot.

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