Observational Findings With Recommendations of Running Gait and Movement Assessment for Blind Runners
One of the main goals of this project was to gain insight into how Blind runners run with their guides and understand if there were any commonalities in the group. Further, we decided to assess movement and balance as running gait can be linked to our strength and mobility.
Runners were assessed using the hudl technique app and an Ipad. Runners were assessed for key gait performance indicators; these included overstriding, foot contact, stride rate, cross-over(stride width), body position, arm carriage and upper body rotation.
Runners were instructed to run with guides with their preferences of side, tether length and speed. Specific feedback was provided to individuals regarding key gait performance indicators.
Here are the common findings.
The most common finding amongst the group was related to stride width and cross-over. There was a crossover of the leg across the midline of the body, on the opposite side of where the guide was. Ex. If the runner had the tether and guide on the right side the left leg was coming across the midline. This finding was present in 5 out of the 6 runners.
Further, there was increased arm swing and upper body rotation on the side opposite of the guide. Ex. If the guide was on the left side there was an increased upper body rotation and arm swing on the right. This finding was present in 5 out of the 6 runners.
Interestingly, strength imbalances were found in the group. Single leg balance, single leg squat and single leg heel raise performance was decreased on the same side as the preferred side to have the guide. This finding was present in 5 out of the 6 runners.
A guide’s gait pattern changes when they are running with a blind runner. The main change is in stride rate to match the blind runner. Similarly, there were changes in upper body rotation when guiding versus running on their own. There was increased upper body rotation on the opposite side of the tether.
Over striding was found to be present in 4 out of 6 blind runners. This is a common gait pattern that we see in many runners.
One of the main goals of this project was to observe how blind runners and their guides run together and to discover if patterns exist.
Leg midline crossover and increased upper body rotation on the side opposite the guide were present in 5 out of 6 blind runners. A crossover has been shown to increase compression forces on the lower limb and outer knee. Thus, this pattern is linked with shin splints and Iliotibial Band Syndrome; two of the most common running injuries. In my opinion, the cross-over is a result of observed. However, it is difficult to say whether the strength imbalances observed in the group existed before versus being a result of habitually running with a guide on one side. Both guides and blind runners had increased upper body rotation on the opposite side as the tether. This finding was not present when guides were running alone. Further, guide’s change their stride rate to match the blind runner. Over striding was present in 4 out of the 6 blind runners.
Overstriding is defined as the ankle landing in front of the knee. This has a breaking effect on the body thus increasing your risk for injury and it decreases performance.
- I would encourage blind runners to consistently switch sides that they have their guide on.
- Ideally, guides and runners be matched on running ability i.e. speed and preferred stride rate.
- Work on improving strength imbalances. Focus on single leg balance, single leg squats, single leg heel raises. Please refer to the strength training and activation and mobility guidelines.
- Incorporate running marching drills into every run or run warm-up, also consider doing focused run technique practice 2-3 per week. This will help communicate the proper movement patterns to the nervous system. For more on running technique see guidelines.
Kris Sheppard DC, CSCS The Runner’s Academy