Lots of runners run happily for years without ever thinking about the way they run. But if you’re new to running or you start noticing issues with your performance, maybe you’re experiencing discomfort, persistent injuries or your shoes just wear out very quickly, you might want to gather some information about your running gait and the biomechanics of your stride.
Ten of our stores currently have a Run Lab with gait analysis equipment:
- Western Canada: Vancouver, Calgary, South Edmonton, Edmonton Downtown
- Ontario: Toronto, North York, Ottawa
- Quebec: Montreal, Quebec City, Laval
Understanding your running style and the way your foot rolls inward or “pronates” is most useful when selecting a new pair of running shoes. Most runners naturally pronate to a small degree, but if your foot rolls too much (called overpronation) or it rolls in the opposite direction so you end up weighting the outside of your shoe (called supination) you might benefit from stabilizing shoes designed to offer motion control. The aim of a stabilizing shoe is to balance your stride and keep the bones and joints in your lower body in good alignment. Learn more about How to choose running shoes
Using MEC’s Run Labs
We sell hundred of models of running shoes and offer a range of neutral and stabilizing shoes for roads or trails. MEC running staff are trained to help you find the exact right pair. The Run Lab includes both a pressure scanner and a treadmill to provide a detailed analysis of your gait pattern and your running technique. When trying out different shoes, you can get immediate feedback about how they feel and how they influence the way you run.
Measuring your foot
Think you know your shoes size? Before you start shoe shopping, it’s best to get an accurate measurement of the length and the width of your foot (It can change as you get older or even as you increase your weekly miles.) Measuring your foot can help you figure out how much extra room you’ll have in a given size to accommodate the swelling of your feet during a long run. An accurate measurement of the length of your arch can also be useful to determine which brand of runners is likely to offer the best fit.
What a foot map can tell you
It used to be common to encounter a “wet foot” test that looked at your wet footprint on a piece of paper. Although your footprint does show how flat or high-arched your foot is when standing still, it’s not the best indicator of what happens to your foot during a high impact activity like running.
MEC uses a pressure mat called a Presto-scan to measure the pressure distribution that occurs in your stride. It maps areas of peak force, shows you where the centre of the force occurs and how weight is distributed from heel to forefoot.
What a treadmill analysis can show you
You may feel well balanced and well-aligned, but having a staff member observe your whole body as you run on a treadmill can reveal small compensations in posture and technique. As you speed and slow your pace or change the elevation of the treadmill, it’s likely that you’ll start to focus on actually running and may not notice how your running form adapts or how your gait changes. A trained observer can provide valuable feedback by watching your whole body while it’s in motion. The treadmill will also allow you to feel the difference between your old shoes and a new pair, and give you a good idea of which model is going to provide the best fit and the most long-term comfort.
Tips for visiting MEC’s Run Lab
No need to make an appointment. It usually takes about 15 minutes to complete a scan and do some test runs.
- Bring your current pair of runners with you
- Wear the socks you usually wear
- Bring orthotics or inserts if you usually wear them
- Wear comfortable clothes you can run in
- If you can, try on shoes later in the day when your feet have expanded
- Be prepared to try on lots of different brands to find the one that fits your foot best
Note, staff in each store are trained to help you find the right shoes, but without a Run Lab you’ll have to use the slightly less high-tech method of running a few laps around the store instead of hitting the treadmill.