What is Gait Analysis?
Gait analysis is essentially the assessment of your walking pattern. Amazingly, it only takes a small injury resulting in mild pain, stiffness or weakness to affect the way you walk or run.
Poor walking or running gait is not only inefficient, it can also cause compensatory injuries at, above or below the injury level. For example, an injured knee that affects your gait can cause foot, hip or back pain.
A normal walking pattern is even more important when you start to run, which increases any abnormal stress forces into your joints and muscles. Poor habits may become long-term, which can predispose you to other injuries or arthritis.
Common Gait (Walking) Problems
With injury or illness, your gait pattern can be very different from normal.
You may dip down at the hip during stance phase, which can lead to hip bursitis or back pain.
You may find clearing the ground difficult in swing phase. This may lead them to swing the leg round to swing through and cause hip pain.
If you’ve have had a stroke or neurological disorder, you may not be able to support the weight fully enough to step with the other leg, which could cause a fall and potential fracture.
You may be unable to pull up your toes (foot drop), which could lead to a trip or an inability to place your heel on the ground.
You may lean too far forward and potentially trip or stumble.
You push your walking aide (eg stick or frame) too far forward for an inefficient gait.
You walk with your weight too far back on your heels, which could cause you to fall backwards.
You could have poor balance, that some simple balance exercise could quickly improve to reduce your chance of a fall.
You may walk with one hand on furniture or a wall, which could lead to a fall!
Your physiotherapist is an expert in gait analysis. They can quickly assess your gait and provide treatment, exercises or tips to quickly normalise how you walk to improve your pain, movement and lifestyle.
Gait analysis can be done in various ways.
An experienced physiotherapist will be able to detect gait abnormalities purely via observing your walking or running style.
Video gait analysis can be used to slow down your walking action for both assessment and correction purposes.
Force plate computer analysis can also be used.
Plus, if you need a walking aide they can advise you on the safest walking aide for you in your home and out and about.