[su_row][su_column]Gait analysis is the assessment of the way we walk or run. A “normal” gait pattern is important because it allows us to move efficiently, with minimal energy costs. An “abnormal” gait pattern may be the result of compensating for an underlying disease e.g. stroke, or may be the result of certain symptoms, e.g. plantar fasciitis or low back pain.[/su_column][su_column][/su_column][/su_row]
The gait cycle consists of a stance phase, where the foot is in contact with the ground, and a swing phase, where it is not. Abnormalities in the gait pattern may occur in either or both of these phases.
Causes of “Abnormal Gait” Patterns
- Muscle weakness – due to disuse (e.g. following the removal of a cast for a fracture) or neurological impairment (e.g. stroke or muscle disease)
- Muscle shortening or contractures
- Spasticity – e.g. following a head injury or any lesions of the central nervous system.
- Sensory impairment
- Altered biomechanics (e.g. leg length discrepancies or over-pronation of the foot)
Examples of Gait Abnormalities
- Hip hitching or swinging the leg out for the foot to clear the ground
- Toe walking
- Hyperextension of the knee
- Over-pronation of the foot
- Alterations in pelvic movement
A physiotherapist can observe your gait and determine any abnormalities and their causes. They can then prescribe exercises and treatments to correct these problems. Where appropriate, they can advise on correct footwear and orthotics.