Just What is A Gait Analysis?

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The proper components of a thorough gait analysisFor those of you who are really starting to get into running, you’ve probably heard that a gait analysis is an important part of choosing sneakers that will help keep you from getting hurt while you train.

So, have you ever wondered what goes on during a gait analysis? Will some shoe salesman just watch you walk and then tell you which shoes he or she wants you to buy?

If you’re in the right place (like your Houston podiatrist’s office or a reputable running store) here’s what to expect from a legitimate gait analysis:

 

The Step-By-Step Guide to Gait Analysis

A qualified specialist should examine the way you stand and walk before watching how you run on a treadmill. In some cases, you may have a video camera set up behind the treadmill so that your gait cycle can be captured on film for further review.

Your gait cycle is, quite simply, the continuous, repetitive pattern of how you run or walk. For the purposes of analysis, it can be broken into two parts, the stance and swing phase.

In the Stance phase, the analysis will look at the following:

  • Heel strike - The point when the heel hits the floor
  • Foot flat - The point where the whole of the foot comes into contact with the floor 
  • Mid stance - Where you transfer weight from the back to the front of your foot
  • Toe off - Pushing off with the toes to propel yourself forwards

In the swing phase, your analyst will be watching out for:

  • Acceleration - The period of time from toe off to maximum knee flexion
  • Mid-swing - The period between maximum knee flexion and the forward movement of the shin bone to a vertical position
  • Deceleration - The end of this pase just prior to a heel strike

After the analysis has been completed, you should have a better idea of imbalances and abnormalities that may cause you discomfort when you run.

Don’t panic!! The good news is, most running abnormalities can be corrected so that you don’t experience pain or injury!

Choosing the Right Sneaker for Your Gait 


While you may be tempted to take your newfound information and present it all at the running store where you'll be choosing your sneakers, you may want to hold on for a minute. As it turns out, gait isn't the most important factor to consider when choosing sneaks. 

What does matter, then? It may sound too simple but it's true: comfort should be king when it comes to selecting sneaker for running. Of course, there are numerous studies that will tell you otherwise but, in my experience, immediate comfort in a pair of shoes (with no need for a breaking-in period) is a better predictor of proper support than any other factor. So, while a gait analysis will help you determine corrections you can make to your running style, and whether you can benefit from custom orthotics, its results don't need to dictate your sneaker style. We can help make any kind of sneaker work for your unique running style, but it's more difficult to make shoes that hurt start to feel good again!

If you haven’t yet received a gait analysis, or have, but want to better understand your results, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider today! 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.