Our Podiatrist Colin Papworth explains more about gait analysis.
Gait analysis is when we look at how you walk or run and see if the way you move is contributing to the pain you are experiencing. Most injuries we see are repetitive strain type injuries so you could be moving or using your feet and body in a way that puts increased stress on certain structures. So a gait analysis should be able to identify these damaging movement patterns but also see how you can go about changing them in a safe way.
With many more people taking up running and access to increasing amounts of information via the internet gait analysis has become a bit of hot topic. There has been much discussion and information concerning what is the best running style with lots of information on how you should run and why. There is no standard fool proof way to run for injury prevention or just running better, everyone seems to have an opinion and most sound plausible. A comprehensive gait analysis should provide you with information regarding to you personally and not just a one size fits all approach.
Each of the assessments that I carry out will firstly look at your anatomical make up before you start running and then combine this with video analysis of you running. Understanding how you move as you do can provide very useful information to help with your running. The gait analysis we offer in clinic is very different to a shop gait analysis in many ways. The whole process will take around an hour although we do offer different services, and these may take up to 2 hours.
“Very different from run shop gait analysis – we look at all of you!”
We look at all of you, from the back and from the side so we can see all of your body and how each segment is working together. We should use all of our body when we run, it not just about feet and legs so we have to look at you as a whole.
For many sports, learning correct technique is considered a vital aspect when starting up, running technique is often not considered at all. I often find it is right at the bottom of the list of things that people investigate when either looking at an injury or trying to improve performance. Most sports or activities usually involve some sort of coaching or advice on how to go about it, with running pretty much all of us just sort out some shoes and go and get on with it. This is one of the good things about running.
But sometimes we come unstuck. Things that may signal your technique may be an issue are recurrent injuries of the same issue, different injuries moving around our bodies, not being able to go faster or longer without putting in a disproportionate amount of extra effort, or sometimes we just loose the love of running along easily. These things may indicate that you are not using your body as efficiently as you could do. Sometimes we get stuck in a certain movement pattern and this puts strain on a bit of our body, our body then compensates to relieve the pressure which puts a strain somewhere else, which the body then compensates for and so on and so on. We then can find ourselves running out of options, but we have developed poor posture and running technique through no fault of our own, just letting the body do what it is good at– sorting out the problems we throw at it.
What can I do as your podiatrist?
So, my job is to try and sort out why you are running as you do and see what can be done about it. This will involve having a chat about all those little niggles that seemed to be no trouble and the bigger issues. Often where you are getting most pain is not the main issue, but we need to find where it all started from. The most painful point is where the body has not been able to compensate from and usually not the cause of the problem. So, we look at all the painful bits, see how all your foot and leg joints are working, have a look at muscle flexibility and strength in both lying and standing. I’ll have a look at you barefoot walking and then running with your usual running shoes on.
Your running is captured on video and then we have a look at this together. I then try and work out what is going on and discuss this all with you. Remember running injuries are most often repetitive strain injuries (unless you have just sprained an ankle or fallen over) caused by repetitively loading tissues that are not able to take the loads you are placing on them. Therefore, we need to reduce the damaging load that is being placed on the tissues and make the tissues stronger, so they can take the increased load. We can do this in a number of ways both in the short term and to make longer term changes.
So once we have identified what we need to change we can then discuss how to do this. There are often a number of factors that need to be addressed and how and when to address these will be discussed. The main issues we address are; posture / technique, strength and flexibility, footwear, training sessions and such things as orthoses or taping.
After discussion of the changes I feel need to be made you will then go back onto the treadmill and try to make the changes. This is then videoed so you can see the changes. Using your body in a different way will feel strange at first so having the video confirmation will help you make changes.
Changes need to be small to start with and you will likely be given some complimentary exercises and running drills to help you make the changes. There will also be a review session set up, so we can check on progress. We can also discuss things like footwear changes, changes to your training, further strength and conditioning and orthoses.
If you are interested in finding out more about the podiatry gait analysis service, then please get in touch. Colin is next here on Wed 24th January so let us know if you want to book to see him.
Book online here