For many Soldiers, running is a challenge they face every morning they are in the Army. Some enjoy the challenge of long miles or short sprints and others dread the notion that the next physical training schedule says it is a run day.
But, weather you love it or hate it, there is a resource at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that can provide the training and information you can use to improve your run and fitness levels. The Gait Analysis Program, currently at Wilson Fitness Center on North Fort provides its services at no cost to servicemembers and families of JBLM, but it will come at a physical cost of hard work and sweat.
“I would definitely suggest this program to people who are open to learning how they can improve. Those who have a sincere intent of addressing their weaknesses should seek out this help,” said 2nd Lt. Shamai Sullivan, 593rd Sustainment Brigade medical officer. “I would typically have to pay so much more for this kind of training at an outside training center. That fact that it is here and available for free is amazing.”
The lieutenant is one of several Soldiers who came to the Gait Analysis Program looking for help and has continued coming for the extra training that is provided by Christina Kurty, Sports Specialist and certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner at the program.
“When I first joined the Army I would have to walk on my PT test. Then one day I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I trained, ran it and loved it,” said Sullivan. “But in the fall I suffered a really bad knee injury and it took a couple of months for me to get back to working with a regular trainer. He noticed a lot of weaknesses that I had and he recommended that I do a gait analysis so they could centralize those weaknesses. Since then I have just stayed here working and training and now I’m working on getting ready for the Army 10-Milier.”
But anyone who comes in to visit Christina should be aware that what she does is not for the faint of heart. She will twist, push and pull your joints in different directions. Stretch you out and video tape your run and walk on a treadmill to best determine what help you need, but also to educate the runner along the way.
“This workout takes two hour,” said Kurty. “Now I do all my tests and run you on the treadmill. You will run fast and slow, it is hard. Then I check the video and show you what we need to do to fix any issues before you leave here.”
Once she determines what the runner needs to do for better performance, she then educates them on the importance of shoe choices. Unfortunately, for many in the Army, choice is dictated by cost.
“If a runner is not having any pain or any deficiencies in their run, then I will leave them alone about shoe choice. But I’ll tell them that pain and deficiencies may develop as they[runner’s] grow older,” said Kurty. “If a Soldier tells me they can’t afford better shoes, I’m going to ask them where the rest of their money goes. Do they smoke or have other habits? If they go to the bar and spend fifty dollars twice a week, that’s a pair of new shoes. It’s about making the right choice.”
An important step before someone comes to Kurty is to stop and ask themselves some important questions and come to the clinic with answers.
“When most people come to see me we start with the critical asking stuff. What’s going on? Why do you want it? How is your run? Are you having any pain?,” said Kurty. “Then I ask are you seeing a doctor? Are you seeing a physical therapist? And are you on a medical profile. Those three things I need a medical release for, before I can help you out.”
Ultimately, after all the sweat, stress and information it comes down to the runner being eager to learn and put it into action.
“No one ever teaches you how to run as your growing up. You just kind of go out and do it. But no one ever teaches you the right form. Either you’re a natural at it or you do it incorrectly your entire life,” said Kurty. “Soldiers are always motivated. For me to be able to work on someone who is motivated is all I ever want to do and it makes the job worth it. I want to be able to teach Soldiers how to run safely and efficiently so they can deploy, get promoted and run pain free.”