OrthoVirginia Blog

Gait Analysis Can Help Assess Chronic Overuse Injuries

Gait analysis is the systematic study of human motion, using the eye and the brain of observers, augmented by instrumentation for measuring body movements, body mechanics, and the activity of the muscles. Gait analysis is used to assess, plan, and treat individuals with conditions affecting their ability to walk. It is also commonly used in sports biomechanics to help athletes run more efficiently and to identify posture-related or movement-related problems in people with injuries.

Who should have a gait analysis?

  • Athletes with repeat overuse injuries
  • Injuries that are recurrent or slow to heal despite appropriate care
  • Athletes that want to improve their time
  • Of note, cannot perform if patient unable to run with their normal gait (ie. limping not allowed)

Common problems addressed

  • PFS
  • ITB syndrome
  • Repeat stress fractures
  • Shin splints
  • Hip pain
  • LBP

What does it entail?

  • Comprehensive history and physical exam
  • Past medical history (scoliosis, leg length discrepancy, congenital deformities)
  • Injury history
  • Interventions i.e. surgeries, shots, therapy
  • Training history (past and current)

Treadmill Gait Analysis

  • Observe patient standing, squatting
  • Single leg stance and single leg squat
  • Walking, running
  • Barefoot
  • With running shoes
  • With inserts/orthotics

Treadmill Gait Analysis

  • Observe patient at their natural running or walking pace
  • Have the treadmill in the center of the room
  • Observe from all angles
  • Observe for asymmetry
  • Follow the kinetic chain
  • Foot strike (rear-foot, mid-foot, forefoot)
  • Loading
  • Mid-stance
  • Hip extension/Toe off
  • Posture
  • Core stability

Gait abnormalities

  • The kinetic chain (ie. could their abnormal foot motion cause their hip or knee problem)
  • Everyone’s gait is unique
  • Not all abnormalities cause problems
  • Don’t fix what isn’t broken

Training Errors

  • As with most running injuries don’t ignore training errors
  • 90% of running injuries occur when the patient is undergoing changes in their routine
  • Changes in speed, terrain, distance, shoe wear

What does the patient gain?

  • Focused HEP or PT Rx to address underlying deficiencies
  • Shoe modifications
  • Inserts/Orthotics
  • Return to run Rx with specific instructions for the patient
  • Follow up gait analysis at 2-3 months or after intervention is complete