Gait evaluation, physical therapy help runners get a step ahead

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There are runs and races nearly every weekend in the Valley during this time of year, from 5k's to marathons and every sprint in between. A new evaluation at Scottsdale Healthcare can help runners break down their running pattern, find the perfect shoes, prevent injuries and more.

The running "gait evaluation" uses a specialized treadmill system complete with pressure plates and video camera analysis to assess impact, joints and movement during running. The assessment usually takes two hours to analyze how you run, and what you might be able to do to improve that jog.

"It's good for any runner that has experienced pain, especially with running," Scottsdale Healthcare physical therapist Jodi Barnum said.

The test also includes a physical therapy evaluation, where specialists look at the runner's flexibility, strength, and movement. The evaluation can be used to better assess causes and preventions for foot pain, back pain, Achilles tendonitis and more.

Evaluations are $350, and follow-up visits are $125 each. Runners can also purchase a package of six treatments for $600.

The price may seem steep, but Barnum says it is well worth it for avid runners. Runners often spend upwards of $100 on shoes a few times a year for the best support and function. This test helps runners understand their movement for the most beneficial running experience.

"If you can also teach your body how to absorb shock better, then your shoes don't become quite as important," Barnum said. "If you're going to keep running, it will be a valuable tool."

For more information about the gait evaluation, or to schedule an assessment, contact the Scottsdale Healthcare physical therapy clinic at their Orthopedic Institute at or 866-969-8526.