No treadmill? No problem. I tried Sports Direct's new gait analysis technology
Years ago, when I first started running, I remember heading to a specialist shop to purchase my first pair of running shoes. Friends had advised me to go for a gait analysis, which identifies whether you have an overpronating, supinating or a neutral gait, so that you can find the right shoe for you (reducing injury and improving running efficiency).
Although a gait analysis is now something I also recommend if you're just starting out, the traditional method that I experienced — running on a treadmill while a total (albeit helpful) stranger analysis you — can be a pretty intimidating experience.
So when Sports Direct announced its new gait analysis service, eliminating the need for a treadmill (or any in-store running) completely, I headed down to the flagship store in London to try it out.
How it works
Traditional gait analysis usually involves running on a treadmill for anywhere up to a minute, while a camera films the way your foot hits the belt. Sports Direct uses 3D foot-scanning technology instead, which analysis your foot anatomy and gives insights into your unique walking/running pattern, your weight balance, foot biometrics, and more.
The machine is set up in a discreet section of the store, immediately reducing that 'everyone is watching me' feeling. Step onto the two outlined feet and the touchscreen screen will walk you through a series of options: select your preferred terrain (road or trail), what type of shoe you're after (everyday or race day), the number of runs you do per week (there's a few options here), preferred distance (options from 5k to long distance) and your weight (there's three ranges to choose from).
The screen will then show you a picture of a foot, where you're able to select any areas where you tend to feel discomfort when running. This could be blisters, shin splints, calf cramp, ankle instability etc.
Next, step off the scales and perform a squat. Step back onto the machine and select whether your knees turned outwards, inwards or remained neutral (you may need someone to help you). Click next and, well...you're done. You'll now be able to see a full breakdown of your foot profile, along with a selection of shoes deemed 'most compatible' based on your analysis.
Even if you've been running for several years, having your gait analysed can be a really useful tool. Turns out, my feet are slightly larger than I thought, and I don't overpronate as much as I used to. For this reason, the technology recommended me a number of neutral shoes, geared towards higher mileage and longer distances.
There's no obligation to buy any of the shoes, so if you're just wanting a hassle-free way to get your gait analysed, it's a fantastic (and, most importantly, free) service to take advantage of.
Gait Analysis is available at Sports Direct's Oxford Street store — download the app to book an appointment.
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