Do I need a gait analysis?

Do I need a gait analysis? 

What is gait? 

Gait is a bit of a fancy (technical) term for the way a person walks. Changes in gait can occur for many different reasons from injuries, to restrictions in flexibility or strength or neurological dominance/ preference (think being left or right handed). In some cases, the reason a person may move differently maybe because of a bony variation or congenital or acquired disability. 

What is gait analysis? 

Gait analysis refers to a system of specific tests a podiatrist can undertake to understand how the body moves. During a gait analysis the movement of the body is observed, considered, measured and recorded to formulate a diagnosis or reason as to why someone may be in pain or have a problem with the way they move. 

What can gait analysis tell you about your body? 

Gait analysis is a powerful way to learn about your body and how it operates. If there are changes in the way a specific joint or muscle operates, it can either cause pain or problems at the location and can often impact other joints, muscles or other structures such as ligaments elsewhere in the body. For example, someone experiencing hip pain may move in a certain way that increases load at the person’s hip – causing pain and injury. The person is often able to identify the hip hurts, if they have had an image (X ray, ultrasound MRI etc) they may be able to have specific information about ‘what’ hurts BUT they may not know ‘why’ it hurts. A gait analysis identifies the biomechanical reasons as to why there may be a high load or reduced capacity of an area of the body to perform which may be leading to a reduction in performance or injury. 

Why should I have a gait analysis? 

Most people know ‘what’ is sore or ‘what’ the problem is when they seek help from a professional. Some people may even have medical images, a diagnosis and specific information about ‘what’ the problem is. However, knowing what the problem is, does not always help. In fact, focussing on ‘what’ is painful can often lead to pain relief medication and rest as the primary strategy which can frustrate so many clients. This is because focussing on the ‘what’ and this type of management strategy often provides only temporary relief of pain and does not promote a fast return to activity, independance or sometimes even a good quality of life. 

The beauty of a gait analysis is this: 

A gait analysis can tell you a lot about ‘why’ you are in pain. This is paramount as once you have worked out the ‘why’ and you have a detailed management plan, you can focus your energy on the cause of the problem. By improving the biomechanics to elevating the capacity of the body to better tolerate load you enabled to perform at your highest level. It’s the same approach that is used by athletes all around the world to recover from injuries and perform at the at the top of their game. 

Should I get a gait analysis? 

A gait analysis is recommended if you answer yes to the following questions: 

Do you have painful feet or toes? 

Do you experience ankle or leg pain? 

Do you have painful knees? 

Do you experience soreness in your hips? 

Do you find walking or standing uncomfortable? 

Do you have problems with movement or balance? 

Do you experience pain with movement or increased activity? 

Are you unsure as to ‘why’ you are in pain? 

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions then you would benefit from knowing more about your body and why you are in pain, so you can create a management plan that addresses the cause of your problems and gets you back to doing what you want to do. 

Written by:
Daniel Monteleone
Podiatrist, Strength & Conditioning Coach

Daniel enjoys changing lives by offering goal oriented therapy. He has a personal history with chronic pain and a strong interest in improving the lives of clients with chronic/ movement related pain. Daniel is a member of Sports Medicine Australia and draws on DMA Clinical Pilates and Health Coaching techniques when providing therapy.

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