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SPECIAL FITNESS ISSUE: THE FOOT

OK, let's take a closer look at that stride

Gait analysis can help runners improve their performance -- and reduce injury.

January 01, 2007|Shari Roan | Times Staff Writer

For example, if a runner is landing too hard (a frequent cause of stress fractures), she can teach him or her to run more softly by having the runner perform on a treadmill linked to a device called an accelerometer. The runner can see the shock wave produced by his or her stride and can adjust, such as by shortening the stride or increasing the knee flexion, so that the shock wave is softened. Davis says many problems can be corrected -- and performance improved -- through biofeedback.

Consumers who undergo gait analysis should make sure they receive sound advice. Most experts suggest that gait analysis for injury diagnosis and treatment should be performed in a healthcare setting. Consumers who are getting the service in a store should inquire about the employee's background and training.

"The value in gait analysis is in the person doing it, not the equipment," Davis says. "If you're getting a footwear recommendation, that's not a big deal. But if it's advice on mechanics, that's something that requires training."

shari.roan@latimes.com

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