What Is a Gait Analysis?

August 11, 2023 12:29 pm Published by

Whole-body movements, such as walking or running, require the coordination of multiple systems. How you walk or run (your gait) may change based on your age, how you’re feeling, and other factors. 

Sometimes, abnormalities within your gait are a symptom of a problem or condition. That’s where a gait analysis can help. Here, we’ll discuss what it is and how it’s done so you can keep walking— or running— happily!

What Is a Gait Analysis?

Over time, your gait may change for many reasons; some are benign, while others could be more concerning.

Gait analysis, also called motion analysis, assesses how someone stands, walks, and runs. This can help determine irregularities, such as skeletal, nervous, and muscle dysfunction, or conditions like muscular dystrophy or rheumatoid arthritis.

Walking Gait Analysis

A walking gait analysis is a common process for those who display an uncommon stride. Irregular gaits are most common in older adults, though it can occur in children and young adults as well.

This analysis usually takes only 15 minutes, but it depends on the gait’s complexity and any additional irregularities that may be present. The test may involve using electrodes, video cameras, platform sensors, and observation.

Running Gait Analysis

A running gait analysis is also used for both children and adults, though it is more commonly used to analyze that of runners and athletes. This helps them improve their gait for performance and identify any concerning abnormalities.

This test may require you to run at a steady pace for about a minute, giving podiatrists ample time to create a preliminary assessment.

What a Podiatrist May Look for During a Gait Analysis

Gait analyses are noninvasive and can help podiatrists identify areas of concern.

Some irregularities podiatrists commonly look for are:

Common Causes of Gait Abnormalities

Gait irregularities can stem from many causes, including prior foot or ankle injuries (such as breaks that failed to heal properly), sores on your feet, nerve damage that can cause trouble with coordination, or inner ear problems (which can directly affect your balance since your inner ear has fluid and thin sensors that help you balance).

Types of Abnormalities Found in a Gait Analysis

Some abnormalities your podiatrist can find through a gait analyses are:

Antalgic Gait

This type is usually accompanied by leg or hip pain. It is commonly identified through different tests, such as pain or swelling in the legs or hips as well as abnormal curvature of the spine. This is because back pain can directly relate to lower leg pain, especially in your feet.

This gait causes a visible change in your stride because it causes you to swing the other leg forward when walking, which can result in unbalanced movement.

Propulsive Gait

A person walking with this stride will be rigid and both their head and neck could be bent forward. With this gait, a person walks slowly and may have trouble starting their steps. This is sometimes apparent in those with Parkinson’s disease.

Scissors Gait

The name of this type of stride comes from the crisscrossing motion that a person with this gait exhibits. This happens when someone’s legs bend inward while they walk. When walking with this gait irregularity, a person’s legs may overlap and even bump into each other. 

Spastic Gait

When someone walks with a spastic gait, their feet tend to drag across the ground. This gives the appearance that a person is walking very stiffly, as they are pulling their feet along rather than walking in a smooth stride.

Shuffling Gait

A shuffling gait is when a person walks without lifting their feet fully off the ground, causing the person to shuffle their feet as they walk.

Get the Right Help for Your Foot or Ankle

If any of the above uncommon gaits sound familiar, Foot & Ankle Group is here to help with a gait analysis or any foot-related challenges! Whether it’s you, a loved one, a friend, or an acquaintance, we stand ready to help you put your best foot forward and get back on your feet again.

Schedule an appointment with Foot & Ankle Group today.

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