The Cross Over gait in a professional runner.
This is Lauren Fleshman (born September 26, 1981) is an American track and field athlete. She was the U.S. 5000 meters champion in 2006 and 2010. In the 5000 meter final of the 2011 IAAF World Championships she finished 7th place, equaling the highest ever finish by an American woman in that event. She debuted in the Marathon November 6, 2011 at the ING New York City Marathon, finishing 12th. She currently trains in Eugene, Oregon as part of the Nike funded professional team Oregon Track Club Elite.
What the Gait Guys have to say. First of all, this isn’t meant to pick on Lauren, we are big fans of hers. Her amazing numbers are evidence of her dominance. We still think her best days are yet to come, and we hope this offers a means to such an end.
This is a great video depicting what often happens at the foot level because of the angle of impact in the cross over gait. Maybe she should watch our 3 Part series on Cross Over Gait (here is Part 1,click). With all that excessive pronation at the foot we suspect there is more gas in the tank in this already amazing runner. What we like is that at the pelvis level (relatively, she has a small hike on the L during R stance phase; look at :22) it is apparent that she has sufficient abdominals (particularly obliques) and gluteus medius strength to avoid the contralateral hip drop during single leg stance (the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus function together to pull the thigh away from midline, or “abduct” the thigh. During gait, these two muscles function principally in supporting the body on one leg, in conjunction with the tensor fascia lata/TFL-ITB, to prevent the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side).
The video also shows no evidence of frontal plane pelvis shifting (see our 3 part videos) which are often seen in the cross over gait and the knees are not giving into the valgus stress created at the ankle from her collapse. So our question is, why doesn’t she get out of this power-leak style so she can be even faster? Sure you could argue, as many do, that if it ain’t broken don’t fix it but from our perspective why not make it better?
Her foot pronation is clearly excessive from driving her power down through an angled tibia instead of driving down through a vertical tibia. This angle of attack is obvious, look at the significal lateral foot initial contact, her foot motion is lateral to medial, not sagittally forward. She is wasting energy because her foot is spending more time moving lateral to medial than forward. She is plenty strong, as evidence by the knee not passing midline into valgus (the glutes are not only extenders but external rotators). She does have one heck of an abductory twist (watch that rear foot at heel rise, yikes! We wonder if her achilles are sore after a long run!). This is surely limiting her gluteal availability. This is just not efficient biomechanics. The longer the foot has to pronate the less time it has to supinate. Our greatest power is in push off from a fully supinated rigid lever foot, not one that is still coming out of pronation. Remember, the glute is going to power through that foot, why not get it positioned optimally do take the glute on and utilize the glute as much as possible ?
In time it could catch up to her in the form of injury, we certainly hope not. We realize this is already a champion runner, she has the numbers to prove it, but why not do what is necessary to become untouchable ? We hear it all the time, “I am injury free, why should I address it?”. Our answer might be, “then why bother doing routine car maintenance if it is running fine or yearly blood work if you feel fine ?" Why do you think NASCAR pit teams and mechanics do all the work they do ? Because they want to go faster. This is such a simple fix. We think she could be so much faster.
Tomorrow we will show a video of Carl Lewis, arguably one of the great runners of the 20th century, especially in form. You will not see a step out of place let alone a cross over. So we will see you tomorrow for that piece.
Bottom line … . Our guess is that the main reason Lauren has not fixed her cross over is that no one has brought it to her attention … until now. In a future post, we will discuss some possible fixes as well.
The Gait Guys ….. Just two guys not trying to upset anyone, just trying to share what we know, what we do everyday, making fast people … faster.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone……. from us both……. Shawn & Ivo