Walking is something that a lot of people do automatically, but did you know the way you walk, or stand can reveal an even deeper story about how your muscles, bones and ligaments function? Podiatrists can help to share this story with you, which starts with your feet.
You may be surprised by just how much the way you walk, and stand can reveal about your overall picture of health. The old adage that the foot bone connects to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone connects to the shin bone, and the shin bone connects to the knee bone, and the knee bone connects to the …. you get it …. Well, it is true, and a Podiatrist can help you to put the pieces of your own human jigsaw together, starting with your feet!
1. Feel the balance
A person’s gait simply refers to the way they stand, walk or run. An abnormal gait can be caused by one or more parts of the body (such as the hips or knees) under-performing, which can lead to imbalances elsewhere in the body. A podiatrist will analyse the way you walk to help identify any imbalances or areas of weakness.
2. The domino effect
Did you know that a Podiatrist doesn’t just study the feet during gait analysis? Let’s say you are suffering from hip pain, this could be related to the way you walk. Or your feet might turn inwards or outwards, and the compensation your muscles have to make to keep you upright can actually be the cause of your pain. Your Podiatrist can explain how all these elements relate to each other – and back to YOU!
3. The weakest link
The way you walk can reveal which part of your body are perhaps weaker than the others. Did you know that compensations in the body can lead to imbalances around the joints and the main muscles – such as hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves? These observations can all tie in with hip, knee, foot, and ankle pains. This means those areas may become less active and end up contributing less that they should. A gait analysis can reveal these kinds of issues, and more.
4. A sneak preview – What is Gait Analysis?
What exactly happens in a gait analysis? In a standard gait analysis you may be asked to stand, walk and run on treadmill – and probably on a normal floor too. Your motion may even be filmed for further observation and sometimes sensors are used in more complex analyses. After that, any necessary treatments and exercises can be prescribed to address issues with your gait, and the impact it has on your body and overall wellbeing.
Putting it another way, this is a system of scientific observations used by Podiatrist to study how the body moves – or to study its biomechanics – and the effects on your feet, hips, lower back and limbs. During gait analysis, your body’s movements are observed, measured, recorded and assessed. Then a diagnosis can be made, and treatments can be prescribed for conditions which may affect your ability to walk, or cause recurring pain.
5. When is a gait analysis necessary?
It can be relevant if you’re in pain or you have had an accident. Or perhaps you’re an athlete seeking to improve your performance, or you just want to check that you are walking efficiently and not putting undue pressure on your body. In all of these cases (and more) gait analysis is an essential diagnostic tool that should be conducted by a Podiatrist.
There is nothing more satisfying as a Podiatrist than seeing someone come in with pain and poor gait and being able to assess and implement a treatment plan helping them become pain free and return to their activities!
Adapted from Foot Health Australia Magazine Issue 1 November 2020