When fellow runner/blogger and Ragnar teammate Anne contacted me about the possibility of teaming up with George Mason University’s SMART Lab for a 3-D Gait Analysis, I jumped at the chance.


I immediately checked out their website to see what sorts of fitness testing was offered.  From the SMART Lab website and staff I learned that they offer:

  • 3-D Gait Analysis – Assesses gait mechanics during walking and/or running, and provides evidence based recommendations to improve identified deficiencies
  • Bod Pod – Uses air displacement to access body volume, and then determines fat free mass, and fat mass (gold standard in measuring body composition)
  • Skinfold Analysis – Measures body composition
  • VO2Max Endurance Test (Oxygen consumption test) – Determines the ability to use Oxygen in exercise (both sub-maximum and maximum tests)

When I learned that the George Mason University (GMU) SMART Lab was one of only three locations in the United States (and one of only six in the world) that offers 3-D Gait Analysis to the general public, I knew that was what I wanted to try.  When else might I have this amazing opportunity?

My specific reasons for choosing the 3-D gait analysis was threefold.  Firstly, it seemed like something my readers would love to learn more about.  Secondly, it was something I was very curious about since I have run a lot of miles for many years (my conservative estimate is that I’ve run 20,000 miles since turning 40).  Thirdly, I wanted to see what gait deficiencies I might have, and what would be recommended to improve those deficiencies to help me meet my goal of running forever.

I arrived at the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center in Manassas, VA, home of the SMART Lab, on a gorgeous afternoon, ready to do whatever was needed to get the most out of my 3-D Gait Analysis.


The SMART Lab staff greeted me warmly when I arrived, and got right to work introducing themselves to me, setting my my expectations for what to expect during my session, and making me feel comfortable.  For a client who might be nervous about the testing, the staff’s calming personalities would put them right at ease.


Left to right: Dr. Nelson Cortes, Amanda Car, Eddo, Alicia Harris, and Dr. Shane Caswell

I was put in the capable hands of Eddo, a PhD candidate for Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion at GMU.  Eddo put me through a litany of functional tests to determine my muscular strength and flexibility, before putting me on the treadmill for my gait analysis.


Next he had me perform squats…


And then he had the nerve to ask me to perform one-legged squats!


Obviously, I was not very good at this particular assignment.  Yes, I lost my balance causing my body to completely collapse, but look at that focus!


While Eddo put me through the remainder of my tests, Amanda (first semester PhD student studying Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion) prepared sensors and markers that would be Velcroed to my back at waist level, and taped to the sides and backs of my legs and shoes.


And finally, Amanda had to put tape all over my Brooks Glycerine shoes to cover the reflective glow so the cameras wouldn’t pick up on it.


Once I was taped and Velcroed properly, I was ready to start my test.  Of course, being the good runner that I am, I had to snap this leg and foot selfie, because that’s what runners do!


I started out walking on the treadmill for about five minutes.  The three infra-red cameras behind me digitally captured my walking biomechanics via the sensors.


My movement was then shown on the screen in the most basic and non-distracting form, a skeleton walking.


After a five-minute warm-up, Amanda had me start running while keeping my speed between 5.0 and 6.5.  My instructions were to find my most comfortable gait within that speed range, and maintain that pace for about five minutes.


When I picked up my pace from walking to running, my skeleton mini-me settled into my exact gait to entertain me during my run.


After I finished running, Eddo compared my functional test results to my gait analysis, and compiled a biomechanical report and assessment specific to me.  My report pinpoints areas of weakness and  inflexibility, and gives me suggestions on exercises that I can do to correct those problems, and hopefully, help protect me from injuries in the future.

My results were also put into a large database along with those collected from 18 other biomedical research labs around the world, allowing for comparisons of test subjects to others of the same gender, age, etc.


On Wednesday, I will share a little bit of my findings, and what recommendations were made to help me make the most out of my running, and help me meet my goal of running forever.  Please be sure to stop back by to see what adjustments I’ll need to make in my workouts, because you know I’ll be talking about them in my weekly recaps.

I am very grateful to the GMU SMART Lab for offering to let me participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis, and would like to thank the staff for such an interesting and informative experience.  I would highly recommend this analysis to anyone wanting to improve their running performance.

AND, saving the best for last…  I am extremely happy to announce that the SMART Lab is giving two gait analyses to me to give to my readers!  That’s right, two of my lucky readers will win an opportunity to visit the lab, perform the exercises, and receive a complete assessment!


Rules to enter the SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day between now and Friday, October 24 at midnight.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Please enter only if you live in the DC Metro area, or would be available to visit the GMU SMART Lab in Manassas, VA.
  3. Two winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Friday, October 24, and announced by Sunday, October 26.
  4. Once the winners are announced, they will have until Tuesday, October 28 to verify that they will register for their analysis.  If either winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis at no cost to me ($200 value).  All opinions expressed are my own.


  • Questions:
  • What would you hope to gain most from your SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis should you be one of the two lucky winners?
  • What sort of fitness testing, if any, have you had done?
  • Who raced over the weekend?