Gait analysis explained: how it helps you
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Outdoor running gait analysis
In recent months I’ve successfully treated patients and delivered webinars virtually via Zoom, in line with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s ‘virtual first’ recommendations. As things start to reopen, I’m extending my offering to include outdoor gait analysis. This is done to compliment the virtual sessions and to give you the option to meet with me in person to look at how you moves and help you become pain free. I confirm It's important to note that physiotherapy guidelines stipulate that at this time, you require a video triage appointment to be conducted before I can attend in person and can only be done when your clinical need cannot be met through virtual consultation.
This service will recommence from the end of April 2021. £55 for 45 minute in person session, including report, advice and exercises at the end of the session.
What is gait analysis? It's where look at how you walk and run, how this links with injury, pain and performance and come up with solutions. I devise a personalised strengthening programme, dynamic warm ups and strategies to help you return to running at your best. If necessary, I can guide you on making subtle adjustments to how you move to manage injuries and improve speed and performance.
Certain movement patterns, such as hip adduction, where the hip comes in too far, hip drop, where the leg in the air is lower than hip on the supporting leg on the ground, vertical impact and training error have the greatest association with injury (1). Fortunately, the body has an incredible ability to adapt, and providing information on movement patterns and changing strengthening and training accordingly can reduce pain and injury, both now and in the future. Training error accounts for up to 60-70% of running injuries (2), so we look at this together to keep you training smart as well as at your chosen level.
If you have a running related injury, or do a sport that involves running, gait analysis will help. The outdoor nature of this form of assessment, guidance and treatment means it is safer than indoor treatment, and allows you to have professional advice to resolve your running related injuries and improve your performance.
How gait analysis works
Prior to the gait analysis, we have a Zoom chat to assess you and provisionally diagnose problems. On meeting in person for gait analysis, I video you, using a phone or, more commonly, a tablet, walking and running away from me, towards me and from the side. This is done in on flat ground. I may also look at specific movements, such as a lunge or single leg knee bend, to help understand how you are moving.
Once we have finished recording, I’ll replay the video with you a frame by frame. Through looking at this together and considering your goals and injuries, we can understand what may be leading to your injury and performance related issues. Sometimes, I will use tools such as HUDL technique to help assess your running. I’ll take you through your personalised exercise programme, progressions, strategies to help improve running and relevant types of running training so you can overcome issues and return to your best. You will get a written report outlining findings and your personal programme.
How it differs from what you have in a running shop or at a running club
A running shop gait analysis generally focusses on foot mechanics and finding you the best shoe. Running coaches usually look at gait from a performance aspect, and have great tips for running posture, breathing control and performance. A Sports Physio is looking at these and much broader aspects, especially injury and pain. As noted in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Sport and Exercise Physios are in a great position when it comes to analysing and understanding running gait (3). Our knowledge of pain, pathology, biomechanics, the nervous system and how movement patterns are learnt and replicated allow us to spot concerns and allow us to reason through how small changes can help. They are looking at your body as both the sum of all its parts moving together, and as a whole, to understand how you move in relation to injury and efficiency. The review follows a systematic process, covering the whole body, running cycle and different speeds. I can see where problems lie, where you can save yourself energy and how you can progress without ‘breaking’ yourself again.
6 things gait analysis will give you
1. An understanding of your mechanics. The body is a bit like a car, with its own ways of operating, strengths and weaknesses. I share with you knowledge of your own biomechanics, and look at patterns of movement which are either the cause or symptom of injuries and muscle imbalances. This guides treatment and your ability to manage yourself.
2. A personalised exercise programme. Through knowing which problems you have, I can give you the best exercises for your problem. It’s best to do a few high quality exercises than many non specific ones. Depending on the problem, some exercises can also make you worse!
3. Freedom from pain –in the short and long term. Some gait patterns are linked to specific pain. Knowing and, if necessary, making small changes to gait
4. Clarity on running terminology. Running aficionados have developed a language and mythology of their own. I can cut through the talk about pronation, heel strike, cadence and more and give you the research based information on what types of running styles correlate with benefits and provide research based information. If the terms in the running magazines are starting to overwhelm you or you have technical questions about running, I can give you answers. Don’t fancy reading the chunky gait book or doing the courses but want to gain in depth knowledge about running? I’ve already done it for you, so you can pick my brains.
5. Focus for your training and running goals.
Make sure your training plan matches your needs. I can also help you understand control of speed, what types of running to practice, and why (e.g. going up and down hill vs running on the flat or grass, how to vary effort levels).
6. Knowledge and empowerment If you know and understand your body's mechanics and injuries, you will be better able to manage these issues and your health, now and in the future.
Your safety and your data
All assessment and treatment is done in accordance with COVID guidelines, using relevant PPE and observing social distancing. No manual treatment will be done. This is in accordance with GDPR and Health Professionals Council guidance. You have control over your data and how it is managed and will be kept fully informed of the process throughout. All data is deleted when no longer required for treatment purposes. Risk assessments, including COVID related assessments, have been done to ensure your safety.
To discuss this or book a gait analysis, get in touch
Davis, I and Futrell, E. Gait retraining: altering the fingerprint of gait. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. 2016. Vol 7(1) 339-355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2015.09.002
Nielsen et al. Training errors and running related injuries: a systematic review Int. Journal Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb; 7(1): 58–75 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3290924/
BJSM and @PhysiosinSport Blogs: Gait analysis: a Sports Physiotherapist’s overview of strengths, limitations, and tips. Tom Goom https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2015/04/28/gait-analysis-a-sports-physiotherapists-overview-of-strengths-limitations-and-tips/