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Gait Analysis: Improve Your Running and Reduce Your Injuries

Apr 7, 2022

Running is a popular form of exercise both recreationally and as a sport; however, there is a risk of injury. Annually, 65 to 80 percent of runners obtain an injury. The five most common running injuries are:

  • Lower leg pain
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Knee meniscus injury
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Medial tibial stress syndrome

Injuries are often a result of faulty movement patterns and decreased energy efficiency throughout the body, both of which can be identified and addressed by a licensed physical therapist through a process known as gait analysis.

Trail runner with knee injury

What is Gait Analysis?

Gait analysis is a technology-based method for identifying biomechanical abnormalities in the gait cycle. It’s a way of using video to capture and assess how you walk or run. Gait analysis is typically done in a clinical facility by a licensed physical therapist or trained professional. The evaluation involves filming the patient running from three positions: front, back, and side. In addition, a physical therapist will analyze the video footage in slow motion, using still frames and frame-by-frame motion assessment.

Analyzing running gait includes examining the following components:

  • How each joint is moving
  • How specific muscles work to control movement
  • How does one side of your body compare to the other side
  • How do the values of joint angles at your trunk, hip, knee, and ankles correspond to normative values

Following a gait analysis, your physical therapist will explain any movement faults observed and recommend running modifications. A trial period will be implemented where strategies are implemented to target desired running mechanics modifications. Additionally, two to three verbal, tactile, or visual cues are used to support the new movement pattern. Interval training is added towards the end of the trial period. Patients are asked to run for one- to three-minute periods, during which the therapist will correct running until the pattern is learned and naturally integrated.

gait analysis of movement patterns

Gait is more vigorous to the weakness of hip and knee extensors

Gait analysis and subsequent running modification are often coupled with an exercise plan to address weak muscles, stiff joints, and short, stiff, or lengthened muscles. For example, if you have weak gluteal and hip muscles, your knees might collapse and cause pain at the patella or joint line. If this is observed, your therapist will cue you to run with increased space between your knees and add gluteal and hip strengthening exercises to your therapy program to address the muscle weakness and the movement pattern.

The Alter G® Anti-gravity Treadmill

Physical therapists use the AlterG® Anti-gravity Treadmill to analyze a patient’s gait and treat joints’ deficiencies. It uses differential air pressure technology to carefully and precisely reduce gravitational forces, allowing the patient to move without pain regardless of the injury’s severity or lack of mobility. AlterG® has helped millions of people recover quicker, manage neurological conditions and chronic disease, build strength and endurance while aging, and increase athletic performance. The AlterG® provides real-time data, pain recording, and live video monitoring, assisting physical therapists with customized treatment plans.

Whether you currently have pain with running or want to improve your running form and energy expenditure, physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy have been trained to help you reach your goal. Schedule an appointment if you want to know more about gait analysis and how it might benefit you.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

by Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

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