Stride Guide: Local runner Maddie Ruppel gets tested on the treadmill at Forever Fit.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Stride Guide: Local runner Maddie Ruppel gets tested on the treadmill at Forever Fit.

Steamboat Living: Staying Fit with a running gait analysis from Forever Fit

Forever Fit video analysis breaks down running form

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Running Replay: Erin Monger-Rosso monitors Maddie Ruppel’s stride on her video screen.

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Find more information at www.foreverfitsteamboat.com.

Running can be rough on the body, and even a minor injury quickly can ruin a runner’s season.

“Let’s prevent the injury versus fixing it afterward,” says Erin Monger-Rosso, a physical therapist with Forever Fit of Steamboat Springs.

To do that, she likes to use video analysis, an economical yet valuable tool that she thinks is underutilized. Forever Fit recently upgraded its equipment and offers the analysis for $30. The whole process takes less than an hour, and runners are bound to walk, or run, away with a few things they can work on to achieve a great gait.

“It offers instant feedback, which really helps people work on their form,” says Monger-Rosso, who has been a physical therapist for 11 years and specializes on working with athletes. Before taking over Forever Fit 2 1/2 years ago, Monger-Rosso worked in Stanford University’s athletic department. At Emory University, she wrote her thesis on video running analysis focusing on track athletes who had chronic hamstring problems.

To demonstrate how the analysis works, consider 16-year-old case study Maddie Ruppel, who is a Steamboat Nordic skier, soccer player and swimmer. Last summer, she took up the sport of triathlon and now is training for her second season. In short, she’s in for a long summer of running.

Before Ruppel gets on the treadmill, Monger-Rosso asks her about her medical history, past injuries and how much she is running. After that information is gathered, she tells Ruppel to hop on the treadmill.

After warming up, Ruppel runs at a steady, comfortable pace. Meanwhile, a video camera linked to computer software captures her stride from the side, front and back.

After Ruppel’s time on the treadmill, Monger-Rosso interprets the video. By replaying it in slow motion, she can critique Ruppel’s run. She points out that it looks like she is gliding through the air and her ponytail is moving equally side to side. Both are subtle signs of good running form.

Monger-Rosso does notice that Ruppel’s left hip movement is off.

“Our bodies don’t like twisting,” Monger-Rosso says. “They like being stable. You have really good form, and if we can just get that hip a little more stable, you’ll feel better, especially on long runs.”

Imbalances and asymmetry start appearing as runners increase their mileage, Monger-Rosso says, and these can lead to injuries.

Among other observations, Monger-Rosso also looks at where Ruppel’s foot is striking the ground. “It’s perfect,” she says.

To address Ruppel’s hip and muscle imbalance, Monger-Rosso shows her exercises that, if done daily during the next couple of months, will strengthen the muscle that is causing the imbalance.

“An ankle sprain can shut this muscle down, and this muscle is so crucial in running,” Monger-Rosso says.

Ruppel leaves the analysis excited that she has something to work on that can improve her performance.

“Being able to look at my gait alignment from three different perspectives was super beneficial,” she says. “I love how a few key exercises can help keep my left hip in line when I run. It was very enlightening."

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