Your gait is also known as the way that you walk and run. Even if you’re able to run with no problems, your gait could still be off, which could put you at a greater risk of experiencing an injury.
When you get a gait analysis, we look at your form as you walk and run. If there are any motions that aren’t quite correct, we can provide training exercises that can strengthen weak muscles and make you a stronger runner and lessen your risk of injury. The providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine explain more about why your gait is so important.
Your gait is about more than just your legs
Sure, your gait affects your form when you run and walk. However, it’s much more important than that. A gait analysis looks at how your whole body works holistically. An improper gait can cause other problems that you might not even realize are associated, such as problems with your hips and back.
A gait analysis measures how your entire body moves and functions, also called biomechanics. This affects your mobility, flexibility, stability, and functional strength. If you continue to use your body — such as while running — with improper gait, you’re likely to put more strain on multiple parts of your body.
What a gait analysis includes
The term “gait analysis” can include many things, based on your individual symptoms. Some of the tests that may be part of your gait analysis include:
- Comprehensive physical examination
- Muscle and motion assessment
- Computer-interfaced video cameras to record muscle movements
- Electrodes placed on your skin to measure muscle activity
- Force platforms that are used to measure your torque and force against the ground
Discover your patterns of movement
A gait analysis doesn’t just measure how you run; it looks at all aspects of your body’s movement. This means that you have a unique movement pattern, whether it’s your running stride, swimming stroke, or pedal stroke.
Why it’s important to discover your unique movement patterns is because you likely have compensations for areas where you lack peak muscle efficiency. Compensations may lead to strength imbalances around your joints, which can cause you not to use some of your larger muscles (such as your quads, hamstrings, or glutes) to favor smaller, stabilizing muscles instead. We can help you to correct your compensations so that your larger muscles do more of the work, like they’re supposed to do.
How we treat abnormal gait
If your gait isn’t quite right, it’s a completely treatable condition. One of the things we might do include fitting your feet for custom orthotics. These are custom-designed inserts that you’ll wear in your shoes, which correct for gait abnormalities. It may require a bit of an adjustment phase to get used to wearing your orthotics, but soon you should find them comfortable and preferable to wear.
You may also be recommended to undergo physical therapy exercises. These exercises will be customized for your specific muscle needs, to strengthen weak muscles that are affecting your gait. The best part of physical therapy to correct your gait is that you can see that it’s working, as measured by follow-up tests.
If you wonder if you have any gait abnormalities or think that you could become a more efficient runner, the doctors at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine can help. Contact us today for a consultation or schedule an appointment online.