Rare is the opportunity I get to sit in on a coaching continuing education seminar at the RRCA Convention. Many of them are sequestered far from the rest of the business going on; most of the good ones occur when I'm in a session where the RRCA rep better be taking care of RRCA business for their state. However, this years' convention at Lakeland left me a good opportunity to sit in on a gait analysis seminar.
I was taught by my coach not to screw around with a runner's gait...one of those things which could lead to serious biomechanical breakdown and turning a runner into (as John Parker called it) once a runner. But, I ran into Tim Hilden, an exercise physiologist/physical therapist-type from Boulder on Friday evening (at the Terrace hotel, where we were staying) who was scheduled to speak on Saturday afternoon. Once I found out the major bullet points of his talk my interest was more than piqued. Three things I took away from the seminar I'd like to pass along. All of these are from what Tim called a "top down" approach to gait analysis.
First: An erect carriage is still pretty much good to go. You don't have to be perfectly erect, but between zero & five degrees of forward lean is acceptable. Don't kid yourself; five degrees is less than you think. So if you're close to erect, you're probably good.
Second: Arm carriage & shoulder swing should not be over-emphasized. A little shoulder roll is all right, but those "big" shoulder & arm movements lead to twist of the trunk, drop or misalignment of the pelvis & stress on the lower extremities. Also, the 90-degree or the "Kenyan" arm carriage is good...don't let those arms hang.
Third: Narrow "trail" of foot to foot. Ever see a person running who has a wide stance (big lateral distance between where the left foot & the right foot lands)? The "ideal" trail has the slightest bit of overlap at the centerline.
There were a few other minor tweaks Tim mentioned, but if you are mindful of your major form areas not only will you be able to minimize the chance of biomechanically-caused aches & pains but you will become a more efficient (and maybe even faster) runner.