What is gait analysis?
Dynamic gait analysis or footstep analysis is a clinical tool, designed to assess a patient’s balance and fall risk. It examines a person’s gait (the manner in which a person walks) as they walk normally and walk during more challenging tasks.
What does it consist of?
Firstly, the specialist will examine the patient’s joints and muscles. Then, a series of tests are carried out:
- Static analysis: the patient stands on a platform connected to a computer, which analyzes the distribution of body weight in each foot.
- Dynamic analysis: the patient walks or runs on the platform to analyze how their weight is distributed when doing exercise.
- Kinematic analysis of movement: This is carried out in some cases and consists of studying three-dimensional footsteps.
After these tests are done, the patient’s overall weight distribution, balance and their movements are assessed and any correction that is necessary to prevent problems in the future are made.
Why is it done?
Sports, such as running, that are beneficial to our health, can sometimes have negative side effects on our joints and bones, like the knee and ankle. Studying footsteps helps to know if a person is walking correctly and if their balance and posture are correct. If the patient is not walking correctly, corrections can be made using insoles or other treatments to prevent disorders and pain in the future.
What happens during the exam?
The process is quite simple and all that is required of the patient is that they walk and run and their footsteps and movements are assessed.
Meaning of abnormal results
Pronation refers to the natural side-to-side movement of the foot as you walk or run. Sometimes the ankle moves too far inward or too far outward, which is called overpronation (ankle moves too far inward) of supination (ankle moves too far outward).
- Pronation: this is the most frequent. The ankle is tilted towards the inside of the foot. It can vary in severity: between 1 and 4 (mild), between 4 and 10 degrees (moderate) and more than 10 degrees (hyperpronation). These people have a greater risk of experiencing shin splints or knee pain and insoles or orthotics can be used to correct the motion of the foot.
- Supination: this is very rare and occurs when the ankle is tilted towards the outside of the foot. This occurs more in people with high arches. Well cushioned shoes are best for people who supinate to provide support to the foot while walking.