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What We Actually Do?

GAIT ANALYSIS AND TRAINING

Analysis of a patient’s walking and running mechanics can be a valuable tool in the Assessment and Rehabilitation of current injuries as well as the prevention of future injuries.  Gait Analysis may be provided during a patient’s initial evaluation at Professional, and revisited during later sessions to monitor progress.
 
A Gait Analysis includes the following:
 
• Discussion of current and previous training patterns
• Discussion of current and previous injuries
• Analysis of strength, flexibility, and balance
• Analysis of shoe wear patterns
• Visual analysis of movement patterns during walking and running
• Breakdown of abnormal or inefficient movement patterns that may be contributing factors to acute and chronic injuries
 
Post-analysis, the patient’s therapeutic exercise program will reflect areas that need to be addressed to ensure optimal recovery and return to activity. This may include abnormalities in gait that occurred due to an injury as well as those that may be contributing factors to an injury.
 
True gait analysis is not a generic exercise, but is a scientifically-based and technically-precise process. It is highly individualized, and reveals a lot about how you will hold up to training and, ultimately, perform.
 
What Is a Gait Analysis?
 
When we conduct a gait analysis, your feet are only one small piece of your biomechanical puzzle. What happens to your feet is merely part of a holistic, whole body, integrated movement pattern. Running, like most other whole-body activities (such as swimming or many field sports), is essentially a unique way of moving.
 
How Compensations Affect Your Gait
 
Compensations in the body lead to imbalance around the joints. The larger prime movers (hamstrings, glutes, quads, etc.) become less active, and end up contributing less than their fair share of the work in moving us around. The smaller/tiny stabilizing muscles are forced to step in (compensate) and do the work of the larger, more powerful prime movers. The stabilizers are taxed day in and day out, mile after mile. The wear and tear on the stabilizers greatly compromises recovery and your ability to train consistently. In short, this scenario is an injury waiting to happen. We see it over and over again.
 
Discovering the inefficiencies and compensations unique to you is the power of what true gait analysis can reveal. Once uncovered, these inefficient and costly "energy leaks" that rob you of power and free speed can be addressed. This cannot be overstated: Improper, unbalanced movement limits your ultimate potential and puts you at an exponentially-increased risk of injury.
In short, gait analysis is about you, and your personal and unique way of moving. Unless the underlying causes of your dysfunctional movement patterns are addressed, your patterns won't change, and, thus, the risk of injury won't improve. Gait analysis is about looking at your entire body as a holistic organism—a single amazing unit. It goes far beyond an untrained eye watching you jog in a pair of sneakers.
 
What is Gait Analysis?
 
Gait analysis is usually performed by a professional, such as a podiatrist or physiotherapist.
Gait analysis usually involves walking or running on a treadmill. In some cases the professional will simply watch the way that you move, looking in particular at your feet, ankles, knees and hips. In more specialist settings, a video recorder will often be set-up behind the treadmill, which will record film of your gait cycle. This can then be relayed to a laptop where slow motion and freeze frames can be used to carefully assess your running or walking style. This form of gait analysis usually focuses on the feet and ankles. Watch our video on treadmill gait analysis here.
 
Many injuries are often caused, at least in part, by poor biomechanics. Runners and athletes whose sports require a high level of running and jumping should make sure they have had a gait analysis and buy the correct footwear to avoid future overuse injuries.
 
 The following are a list of common overuse injuries associated with poor gait biomechanics:
• Shin splints
• Plantar fasciitis
• Iliotibial band syndrome (runners knee)
• Patella tendonitis (jumpers knee)
• Patello-femoral knee pain
• Achilles tendonitis
• Lower back pain
 
One way that you can get an idea for yourself whether you pronate, supinate or have a neutral foot strike is to look at the wear of your trainers or shoes. These must be shoes which you worn a lot so that there is a pattern of wear on the sole. Watch our video on assessing trainer wear here.
 
The Gait Cycle in Walking and Running
 
The gait cycle is the continuous repetitive pattern of walking or running. The gait cycle is split into two main phases, stance and swing, with one complete gait cycle including both a stance and swing phase.
 
The stance phase is the period where the foot is in contact with the ground and equates to 60% of the cycle when walking. The swing phases makes up the remaining 40%. During walking there is a period called double stance, where both feet are in contact with the ground. The swing and stance phases can be further divided into:
 
Stance
 
• Heel strike - The point when the heel hits the floor
• Foot flat - The point where the whole of the foot comes into contact with the floor
• Mid stance - Where we are transferring weight from the back, to the front of our feet
• Toe off - Pushing off with the toes to propel us forwards
 
Swing
 
• Acceleration - The period from toe off to maximum knee flexion in order for the foot to clear the ground
• Mid-swing - The period between maximum knee flexion and the forward movement of the tibia (shin bone) to a vertical position
• Deceleration - The end of the swing phase before heel strike
 
When running, a higher proportion of the cycle is swing phase as the foot is in contact with the ground for a shorter period. Because of this there is now no double stance phase, and instead there is a point where neither feet are in contact with the ground, this is called the flight phase. As running speed increases, stance phase becomes shorter and shorter.
 
Corrections to your Gait Cycle
 
If it is found that there is an abnormality of your gait cycle. This can usually be correct with a change in footwear, the use of orthotics or an exercise programme.
 
Running shoes usually cater for those who either overpronate, oversupinate or have a neutral position. It is important to make sure you have the right running shoes for your style of running.
 

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