Imbalanced running stride
March 1, 2009 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I have an imbalanced running stride. How do I go about fixing it?

I tend to roll my right foot just fine, but my left foot stomps down when it hits the ground. I never really noticed it until I started running so I'm switching to other forms of impact-free cardio at the moment. I did notice, however, that my left pinky toe was always pushing out against my shoes and that my left calf looks bigger. Anyways, it's not balanced.

I want to see a professional to fix this but I'm not sure where to start looking. Thanks!
posted by bouchacha to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go to a specialty running store. Around here I think there's "On The Run" or something like that. The clerks will make you jog around and look at your stride and hook you up with the right shoes, insoles, etc.

This sounded to me like an easy way to rip me off when I went, so I was prepared to spend a lot of money, but they told me my stride was fine, and then (for my foot shape) recommended the cheapest nikes they had (80 box or so i think) and they're perfect for me.
posted by cmoj at 5:54 PM on March 1, 2009

Is your left foot flat? Do the wet feet on cement test - does your left footprint have less of an arch than the right?

If so, you're probably going to want an arch support for the left foot. See a podiatrist, esp. one who deals with runners.
posted by zippy at 6:04 PM on March 1, 2009

i went to see a podiatrist recently and i highly recommend it, especially if you notice that your left foot is behaving differently from your right foot. only catch is that it will likely be expensive (not sure if this kind of thing is covered by insurance). my checkup was about 300 bucks, though it included a custom-made insole to correct my specific problems.

if you don't want to spend so much on a check up, the doc did tell me about what shoe brands to go for and which to avoid: commercial nikes (as opposed to the ones they custom make for the athletes they sponsor) are supposedly bad/useless for your feet, but he highly recommended asics. he based these judgements on having bought several pairs of shoes from each brand and literally taken them apart to see what went into their soles!

FWIW, i bought a pair of asics and love them :)
posted by skaye at 7:03 PM on March 1, 2009

I saw a sports medicine doctor once about some knee pain, and after a brief assessment, he basically laid out for me how I had developed musculature problems over the previous five years that I'd never have known about had they not finally resulted in acute pain. It was pretty much awesome, and I'm much less injury-prone now that I know the specific quirks of my own body. I'd recommend seeing a sports medicine doctor for sure, since they know all about runner-specific concerns.

Yes, get a running store to fit you for shoes, but it sounds like you have more advanced problems than they're going to be able to help you with. (Though the running store where I buy my shoes has one night a week where they have a sports medicine doctor on hand for a few hours, actually.)

I spent a Texan summer logging some serious miles on a treadmill, and running in front of a mirror turned out to be a huge help in terms of correcting my stride. I think merely being aware of your body mechanics while running is a huge step in the right direction.
posted by adiabat at 7:21 PM on March 1, 2009

The POSE running technique might be beneficial here.
posted by tiburon at 7:46 PM on March 1, 2009

If you're not already running on shoes that you've gotten at a specialty running store, go to one and they'll hook you up with shoes that will work if you pronate or supinate. If you're running with these shoes already, then I'd recommend a pedorthist (it's the second time today I've recommended one on here!). I had a fantastic experience with one recently My pedorthist analyzed my walk, looked at the arches of my feet, gave me exercises to do, and got me to buy generic orthotics that she later customized to my foot (she said I could have gotten custom orthotics built for my foot, but it was just too expensive for me -- the generic option was $50 as opposed to the $300-500 for custom). Quite frankly, I'm not clear on what the difference between a orthopedic specialist, podiatrist, and pedorthist, though I suspect the main difference is that a pedorthist is not a medical doctor and couldn't do surgery. This might mean it's a cheaper option in terms of treatment (if that's a concern).
posted by pised at 8:24 PM on March 1, 2009

I would probably start by calling up a few of the well known orthopaedic knee surgeons in the area and asking the receiptions which physical therapists they recommend in the area, then call and book appointments with the knee/running therapist at the clinics with better reputations.

Practitioners of Active Release, CHEK method, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais method among others tend to be knowledgable and insightful on more subtle injuries like this. It's worth checking into each's website to see if there are any practioners in the area who specialize in running or lower body biomechanics.

You also might consider getting some therapetic massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release etc. as you could have accumulated scar tissue on your left leg, altering your running mechanics and cascading to this issue.
posted by zentrification at 3:49 AM on March 2, 2009

Another vote for visiting a running shoe store before visiting a foot specialist. Get a good shoe fitting, run with the new shoes, then determine if the problem is your feet and or the shoes. The pinky toe problem is classic. I used to lose nails all the time from tight toe boxes. At the recommendation of a salesman I switched to a new brand (New Balance) and never had a toe nail problem again.
posted by birdwatcher at 5:23 AM on March 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers. I was planning on going to a running store eventually, but I am more concerned with fixing the issue for good. I can live without running, that's not very important to me but it would be cool if my walking stride was fixed. So I assume my best option is to look up a podiatrist and go from there?
posted by bouchacha at 4:11 PM on March 2, 2009

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