Determining Biomechanical Problems through Gait Analysis
03rd January 2014
By David Elliott Podiatrist, BSc (Eng), CPodM, GNP(Pod), FAIPP, FAChPod, MAOSF
The foundation of the body is the feet. The alignment and position of your feet can affect your whole body, which in turn can cause local foot and ankle pain and pain further up into your body, such as in the knee, hip and back.
This is the reason why it is important to consider a detailed Gait (walking) Analysis to look at the way and how you walk if you suffer from prolonged foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain.
A vast amount of information can be determined from analysing how you walk. The mechanisms by which the foot loads can affect the rest of the body.
During a Gait Analysis a series of complex measurements are taken of hip rotation and flexion, both static and walking to determine the extent of the gait problem. This generates measurements that can provide the podiatrist with comprehensive data regarding the movement, and pressure distribution of your feet.
This can then be collated with the information gathered from a foot scan.
Why a foot scan?
The foot is in contact with the ground for a very short time, something like 0.8 of a second when walking and about a quarter of a second when running. This is too difficult for even the most experienced practitioner to see with the naked eye.
Therefore one way to analysis the foot accurately is to use a computerised foot scanner. Then by walking across or standing on a foot pressure plate, your foot will be scanned using something like 4000 pressure sensors.
This generates static and dynamic foot pressure information to the associated computerised software, providing your podiatrist with the information regarding the pressure distribution of your feet.
Force and pressure distribution in all regions of the foot can be analysed in graphical (picture) format allowing you to see the forces and pressure in both localised and general areas under the foot during stance (weight bearing) phase and gait (walking) phase. As shown below.
What is usually the next step?
If there is a problem with your gait then the best solution is to use a device called an Orthotic.
What is an Orthotic
An Orthotic (shown below) is a prescription insole that fits into your shoe to correct your foot alignment and improve your foot function.
Biomechanical problems can cause a chain of events resulting in aches and pains all the way to your, knees, hips and back. Orthotics are designed to counter any biomechanical problems and are the first step towards regaining your overall biomechanical health.
Why does this happen?
This is evolution. As we have evolved over thousands of years initially walking on all fours and then upright we needed to maintain a level horizon and be adaptable over all kinds of terrain. We have now developed to a point where we walk on hard flat surfaces and therein lies the problem.
It is a fact that 96% of the population have some type of biomechanical foot or leg dysfunction resulting in a leg length inequality and it is this that can be the cause of a lot of ongoing back, hip, knee, ankle and foot problems.
Only by carrying out a full pelvic, lower limb and foot assessment can the true biomechanical dysfunction be identified and resolved with the correct device.
For more information about foot pain, its diagnosis, treatment and management, please visit the Central FootClinic website here