An individual’s gait is defined by the way their body moves from one place to another. So the way you walk, run, dance - essentially all the ways you can move from one point to the next - determines how the gait of your body functions. And it’s a part of the body that most of us are constantly thinking about. A lot of us can be conscious of the way we walk or run or even of the shape of our feet. Especially for an athlete, it’s not uncommon for them to perennially analyse their feet and their movement. This kind of study can be translated into a term called ‘gait analysis’.
Know more here:
An Overview of Gait Analysis
This refers to the study of an individual’s movement and performance across that motion. But many a time, a more realistic gait analysis is often clouded certain misconceptions and self-made diagnoses.
Unfortunately, listening to the clerk at the shoe store and buying a pair that he claims to give you a more neutral and cushioned mid-foot landing doesn’t solve your bio mechanical dysfunctions. For many athletes and non-athletes, issues and abnormalities in their gait have had severe repercussions on their ability to carry forward even the simple day to day activities.
What is Gait Analysis
A gait analysis would have to be far more customised and should ultimately reveal how one could hold up to a training process and perform to their best. It is often used to detect abnormalities that cause pain during movement and individualise shoe fits and arches for one’s feet, to best allow support and be conducive to their gait style.
A true gait analysis doesn’t just involve a generically prescribed exercise routine, but it has more to do with a personalised, technically precise and scientific process of studying the patterns of your gait and overall structure. It is commonly performed by foot care professionals, who use various technologies and methods to study and evaluate a person’s gait.
The runner being tested is observed by the professional on how she or he walks over a specialised platform. These observations are supplemented by a case history about the runner’s gait and foot structure. This information together provides an elaborate description and illustration of the runner’s gait analysis.
What is a Gait Pattern: Types of Gait
An individual’s gait is broadly categorised into natural (that which is used instinctively) and trained (that which is learnt through training) gaits.
Natural gait activities include walking, jogging, skipping, running and sprinting, and they occur naturally across almost all societies and cultures. The function of these gaits is to propel the individual forward, which then subsequently be adapted for lateral movement as well.
From the First Step to the Last
The analysis would begin by reading the imprint of the runner’s foot. This footprint allows the foot care specialist to map out the overall framework of the subject’s gait and further decide on a plan of action for future treatment. It facilitates formulating a concrete solution for any pain or abnormalities that runner could be facing in their feet, knees, hips or back.
And many specialists emphasise on is the fact that your feet constitute only a small fraction of your biomechanical structure and that it is critical to take into account of all the other parts of the body that factor into your kinesthetic construct.
What happens to your feet is generally a part of a larger and more holistic set of integrated movement patterns.
When you run or swim or dance, your body has a unique way of moving. A thorough analysis encompasses of identifying measurable parameters of your gait. This detailed and quantified study of your gait will help any footcare professional to draw interpretations not only about your feet but also conclusions about your health and overall gait and posture pattern.
What is your Running Gait
For every runner, their gait while running consists of a unique and specific set of actions and reactions their foot performs while in motion. This particular set of movements and muscular responses occur in order to help support, balance and cushion your body while running.
Your running gait can generally be characterised into three distinguishable stages.
1. The impact and the support phase is the first stage of your running gait that involves a set of actions that occur when your foot first strikes the ground. This phase of your running gait concerns itself with cushioning and supporting your entire body from the impact of your initial foot strike.
2. The second phase is known as the midstance and propulsion stage and this is when your foot prepares to push your body forward with as much speed and balance as possible.
3. The third and final phase is termed as the recovery phase.
Your running gait functions cyclically across these three phases to ensure that your entire body moves with the right amount of balance and support it needs and follows the correct running technique.
Understand Your Pronation and Gait
Before we get into various gait analysis method you should know about pronation.
So what exactly is pronation?
The natural inward roll of the foot to the outside part of the heel that strikes the floor. This role acts as a shock absorber for the leg and body and it distributes the force of the impact on the heel hitting the ground.
Pronation is divided into:
- Overpronation (Flat feet)
- Underpronation (Supination)
People with neutral pronation are the lucky ones! Their strikes are perfect their feet never roll and the best thing is that the probability of running injuries is less! Sometimes, when a person’s foot rolls inward too much, professionals recognize this an overpronation. Similarly, when the feet do not roll inward enough, it’s termed as under-pronation or supination.
Pronation is the reason why runners are prone to lower leg injuries, hip injuries, knee injuries and much more. But fret not you can avoid these injuries through gait analysis.
A gait analysis can be vital in identifying problems with your pronation and foot strike. By understanding a person’s degree of pronation, foot care specialists can prescribe and suggest the correct shoe type - while tackling any abnormalities in pronation. Counterbalancing under or overpronation through the right type of footwear helps decrease the risk of injury and improving running efficiency.
An individual’s gait is not just affected by sports related injuries, but can also be the symptom of a larger underlying health problem. The primary focus of gait analysis is to measure the degree of pronation. A gait analysis is very assistive in the sense that it allows a holistic diagnosis of any distress or pain experienced - that which can ultimately affect your gait.
Gait Analysis Methods: From New-Age Technology to DIY
1. Natural Gait Analysis:
If you are prone to foot injuries or want to understand your pronation then it is important that you undergo a natural gait analysis. This will help you figure out your foot strike and even let you know about your feet pronation. Basically, this analysis will highlight all the biomechanical abnormalities and help you fix the! Goodbye, running injuries!
2. Video Gait Analysis:
You must be wondering what is video gait analysis?
Your pronation can be studied by using a range of techniques. A video gait analysis is a commonly used method that involves taking a video of the runner’s feet while running on a treadmill. This video is then slowed down and analysed in detail by a foot care professional or a physical therapist.
3. 3D Foot Mapping:
Some of the technologies used in conducting a gait analysis involve a process called video gait analysis. The current and most advanced version of this process is called 3D foot mapping. In addition to a video, a 3D foot mapping technique uses both lasers and micro cameras to create and project an intricate and detailed 3D image of the runner’s foot.
You’ll be surprised by the immense amount of information that can be obtained from the scan, such as the alignment of your Achilles with your leg and the arch height. This data is assessed to deduce and source the perfectly customised running shoes for the runner and further help runners understand the root causes of their recurring injuries or pain or abnormalities.
Once an athlete and a foot care specialist understand their style and pattern of movement, their gait and the kind of shoe wear they might need becomes easier to select and prescribe.
4. The Wet Foot Test:
And if by any chance, you can’t make it to a professional’s outlet to have your gait analysed, there are simple and effective ways to check your gait and pronation at home, by yourself.
The Wet Foot Test, in particular, is one of the easier and more efficient processes to carry out at home. All you would need to do is wet the sole of your foot and step onto a piece of heavy duty paper, a dark tile or a concrete slab.
From the footprint, the degree of to which your sole is visible gives you an indication of your arch type, and furthermore the kind of shoes that might best suit for you. Our lifestyles and habits have a gradual yet long lasting effect on our body. And that’s why it’s very important to have your gait checked regularly.
A regular gait analysis will not only take into account of any changes in your exercise and work routines but also your daily bodily movements and patterns.
Gait Analysis - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How helpful is it getting a gait analysis?
The pronation of your feet and your gait change over time and sometimes it can even be affected by wearing the wrong type of shoes - which may subsequently also lead to more injuries and abnormalities in your gait in the long run. A gait analysis only takes about 15 minutes to conduct and it doesn’t cost a cent.
2. How often should you have your gait analysed?
It’s best recommended that you have your gait analysed at least once a year, especially because your style of movement will naturally change with the level of exercise you indulge in.
3. How often should you change your running shoes?
No matter how much you love your shoes it has an expiry date! Sorry but you should replace your shoes every 482 - 804 kilometres, depending on your weight and the surfaces you generally run on.
If you are a runner who runs three or four times a week then we suggest you replace your old running shoes yearly once! This is the max you should use it!
A good DIY method to test this out is the “kitchen bench” method. All you’d have to do is place your shoe on the counter and see if you can make your foot rock with one finger on the heel. Is your midsole compressed? Well, it's time to invest in a new pair of running shoes. Similarly, the quality of your sole can also be a great indicator on whether or not you’d need to buy a new pair of running shoes.
4. How much does gait analysis cost?
It’s absolutely free in several outlets and footwear specialist outlets!
There are several benefits to studying your feet and getting a gait analysis not allows you to identify your foot strike, but also way your entire body moves. The information obtained from a gait analysis can help you to determine the manner in which your feet land and furthermore help prepare a detailed and personalised prescription of equipment and footwear to, if necessary, offer you the best kind of support and intervention for any problems in your pronation and gait. It’s simple, it’s quick, it’s easy and more than everything, it’s free!