Training out a crossover gait?

This gal came to see us with right-sided hamstring insertional pain. During gait analysis we noted that she has a crossover gait as seen in the first two sections of this video. In addition to making other changes both biomechanically (manipulation, gluteus medius exercises) and in her running style (“Rounding out her gait” and making her gait more “circular”, running with less impact on foot strike, extending her toes slightly in her shoes) she was told to run with her arms at her sides rather than across her body. You can see the results and the third part of this.

Because of her bilateral gluteus medius weakness that is seen with the dipping and lateral shift of the pelvis on the footstrike side, she moves her arms across her body to move her center of gravity over her feet.

Yes, there is much more work that needs to be done. This is one simple step in the entire process.

“When you run up a hill, most of the cross over gait disappears. Runners will tend toward beautifully stacked lower limb joints.”- Dr. Allen

Are people running up a hill more likely to tend towards a cross over gait style, in other words tend toward a more narrow gait step or a wider gait step ?

Watch people run up hill closely. Even if they are cross over (narrow foot fall) runners, when running up hills a few things will negate much of the narrow foot fall.

1- Running up hill requires more gluteals, more power is needed for all that extra required hip extension to power up the hill. More gluteal max use can, and will, spill over into the posterior fibers of the gluteus medius and this will tend to abduct the leg/hip and reduce some of the cross over tendency.

2- When one runs up a hill, there is a forward pitch of the upper torso, often with a some degree of forward pitch occurring at the hips. More importantly, because one is running up hill, they are stepping up and so more than normal hip flexion is necessary than in normal running. The forward pitch of the body and the greater degree of hip flexion is the culprit here. If the hip/leg is adducted in a cross over style, adding this to a more than normal flexing hip, it will create a scenario for anterior hip impingement and risk of femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) syndromes. Go ahead, test it for yourself. Lie on your back and flex your hip, drawing your knee straight up towards your shoulder.  Pretty good range correct ?  Now, flex the hip drawing your knee towards your navel, adducting it a little across your body. Feel the abrupt range of motion loss and possible pinch in the front of the hip ?  FAI.  This is what would happen if you utilized a cross over gait, narrow foot strike gait. The goes for mountain/sleep hill hikers as well. 

This is why, if you are a narrow foot striker, a near-cross over type of runner, you will see it disappear when you run up hills.  

If you get anterior hip pain running up hills, force a wider step width and reduce the possible impingement at the anterior hip joint. Just make sure you have enough ankle dorsiflexion to tackle the hill in the first place. If not, you may welcome some foot and ankle stuff to the table along with the hip.  

Likely obvious stuff to most of the readers here, but sometimes it is nice to point out the obvious.  Hills, just because they are there, doesn’t mean you have the parts to run them safely.

Dr. Shawn Allen

Podcast 82: Phasic vs Antiphasic Gait, Cross Over Gait & more.

Show sponsors:

A. Link to our server:

Direct Download:

B. iTunes link:

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”


Show notes:

Blog posts we reviewed:

Muscle Activity Differences in Forefoot and Rearfoot Strikers

Weight-Bearing Ankle Dorsiflexion Range of Motion—Can Side-to-Side Symmetry Be Assumed?

extras for this piece:

and you can use this to substantiate it:

Effect of step width manipulation on tibial stress during running. J Biomech. 2014 Aug 22;47(11):2738-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.04.047. Epub 2014 May 21.

Hip muscles and postural control related to ankle function.

Hip exercises boost postural control in individuals with ankle instability

-“Four weeks of hip external rotator and abductor strengthening significantly improves postural control in patients with functional ankle instability (FAI) and may be useful for preventing recurrent instability, according to research from Indiana University in Bloom­ington.”

Nothing new here, at least not here on The Gait Guys blog. We have been talking about these kinds of issues for a long time. We  have long discussed the necessary control of the glutes (and their anchoring abdominals) to eccentrically control the loading response during the stance phase of gait, we especially like to discuss the control of the rate of internal rotation (read: eccentric ability of external rotators as a component) of the leg with the glutes. It is why we think it is so important to eccentrically test the glutes and the core stabilizers (all of them !) when the client is table assessed because it is a huge window for us as to what is happening when there is ground interface. Sure one is open chain and the other is closed, but function is necessary in both. 
What this article is again, like others, telling us is that the ability to stack the joints (knee over foot, hip over knee, level stable pelvis over hip) improves postural control, especially when there is a risky environment of ankle functional or anatomical instability. 
And yes, we are talking Cross over gait and frontal plane challenges and faulty patterns here.  Failure to stack the joints usually leads to cross over gait challenges (type in “cross over or cross over gait into our blog SEARCH box). Remember though, you must selectively strengthen the weak muscles and weak motor patterns, if you are not specific you can easily strengthen the neuro-protective tight muscles and their patterns because they have been the only available patterns to your client. If you are not careful, you will help them strategize and compensate deeper, which in itself can lead to injury.  This is a paramount rehab principle, merely activating what appears weak does not mean you are carrying them over to a functional pattern. Just because you can show a change on the table doesn’t mean it carries over to the ground and sport or training. 
Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys

Can you see it?

Here we are again. We have looked at this picture before; once about head tilt, and another about flip flops and form.

Take a good look at this picture and what is different about the child in blue all the way to the right and all the others with the exception of the boy in pink, that we really cannot see?

Can you see it? No, we don’t mean the flip flops (but if you caught that all the boys were in sneakers and all the girls are in flip flops, you are good!)

How about looking at arm swing? Remember this post on arm swing and crossover gait, with the simple cue for correction? All of the children EXCEPT the boy in blue, are drawing their arms ACROSS their body (ie: flexion, internal rotation and adduction). Take a look at their legs. Yep, crossover gait (flexion, internal rotation and adduction). Little boy blues arms are going relatively straight and going in the saggital plane, where the others are going in the coronal plane.

We are not saying that blue does not have some gait challenges, like his torso shift to the left (or pelvic drift to the right), most likely do to gluteus medius weakness or inappropriate firing of the gluteus medius on the left stance phase leg; or his head tilt to the right, which most likely represents a compensation for the right pelvic drift and left body lean.

Arm swing. A very important clue to the puzzle we call gait and compensation. It is more prevalent than you think, and, in some cases, easily corrected with a simple cue.

The Gait Guys. Making it real and pertinent, in each and every post.

Correcting a cross over gait with arm swing? Is it really THAT easy? Sometimes, yes!

We noticed this patient had a cross over gait while running (1st few seconds of video. need to know more about crossover gait? click here). We noted she was crossing her arms over her body as well. We than had her run her hands and arms straight out. See the crossover disappear? Need to know more about arm swing? click here

We the had her do the same while walking. Easier to see, eh? That’s because it is often easier to “fudge” things when you are moving faster (ie: the basal ganglia of nervous system can interpolate where the body part is supposed to be, and because of momentum, there is less need for precision). When we do things slowly (like the 3 second Test), more precision is needed. Watch this short video clip a few more times.

The arms are essentially adducting when the arms cross over. The arms are reciprocally paired with the contralateral lower extremity. When you make a change in one, you often will make a change in the other.

Subtle. Yes. Easier to see when the task becomes more difficult. Yes. Pay attention, the answer is often right there if you look closely enough.

Providing the clues to help you be smarter, better, faster, stronger; we are The Gait Guys

special thanks to “Q” for allowing us to publish this video : )

Saucony: Line Running and Crossing Over

We are big fans of the Saucony line of shoes. We have recommended them to our novice and serious runners for decades now. Currently one of our favorite shoes for our runners is the Saucony Mirage, a beautiful 4mm ramp shoe with no bells and whistles.  It is as close to a perfect zero drop that  you will find without going zero, in our opinion.  That is not to say there are not other great 4mm shoes out there, the Brooks Cadence and the New balance minimus are other beautiful 4mm’s out there.  The Mirage has never failed a single client of ours.  

This was a photo we screen captured from the Saucony Facebook page (we hope that for the sake of educating all runners and athletes that we can borrow this picture for this blog post, please contact us if you would like us to remove it). It is a good page, you should follow it as well.  This picture shows not only a nice shoe but something that we have been talking about forever.  The cross over; this runner is running in such a line that it could be argued that the feet are crossing the mid line. In this case, is the line queuing the runner to strike the line ? Careful of subconscious queues when you run, lines are like targets for the eyes and brain.  One thing we like to do with our runners is to use the line as training however, a form of behavioral modification.  When you do a track workout, use the line underneath you, but keep the feet on either side of the line so that you learn to create that little bit of limb /hip abduction that helps to facilitate the hip abductor muscles.  This will do several things, (and you can do a search here on our blog for all these things), it will reduce the reflexive tightening of the ITBand (pay attention all you chronic IT band foam rolling addicts !), it will facilitate less frontal plane pelvis sway, optimal stacking of the lower limb joints, cleaner patellofemoral tracking and help to reduce excessive pronation /internal limb spin effects.  

There is really nothing negative about correcting your cross over, IF it truly needs correcting.  That is the key question.  Some people may have anatomic reasons as to why the cross over is their norm, but you have to know  your anatomy, biomechanics and neuromechanics and bring them together into a competent clinical examination to know when the correction will lead to optimal gait and when it will drive suboptimal gait. Just because you see it and think it is bad, does not make it so.  

New to this cross over stuff ? Head over to the search box here on our blog and type in “cross over” or “cross over gait” and you will find dozens of articles and some great videos we have done to help you better grasp it. 

* you will also note that this runner is in an excessive lateral forefoot strike posturing.  This means that excessive and abrupt prontation will have to follow through the mid-forefoot in order to get the medial foot tripod down and engaged.  The question is however, is what you are seeing a product of the steep limb angle from the cross over, or does this runner have a forefoot varus (functional or anatomic, rigid or flexible)?  Are the peronei muscles weak, making pre-contact foot/ankle eversion less than optimal ? This is an important point, and your clinical examination will define that right away … . . if you know what these things are.  And if you don’t ? Well, you have found the right blog, one with a SEARCH box. Type in “forefoot varus”, if you want to open up the rabbit hole and climb down it … . . we dare ya ! 🙂