Gait Analysis: Should I? Must I?
By Mr Jared Green - Musculoskeletal Podiatrist
When I was asked to write a short article on the necessity of gait analysis and my approach to it, I have to admit I found it quite daunting and a challenging task to explain.
What exactly is gait analysis and do you as a runner /sportsperson need it? Clearly many people and professions offer it, so what is the difference and why do prices vary so greatly for this service?
To answer these questions one needs to think of the human body as a machine. Just like a machine has mechanical features; the human body has biomechanical characteristics.
One of the many tools used to help discern these characteristics is gait analysis:
“The systematic study of human motion.”
Subsequently it is not a question of whether you need gait analysis but rather do you need a biomechanical review?
Unfortunately the two terms are often used synonymously, however this could not be farther from the truth.
To help explain: bear with me as I wander back nineteen years to when I was a freshly qualified podiatrist.
In the beginning I was always taught; biomechanics is based on science but it is implemented like an art. I found this concept difficult to accept. Clearly no human replicates a textbook but surely if the artist is lacking, well the science is out the window. Then came the inadequate evidence directly relating to my profession; what was the efficacy of orthoses and functional footwear? What scientific rationale warranted the use of theses devices? Yes, patients often reported good outcomes. But why?
The quest began. After watching countless amounts of gait footage and having fantastic patients willing to allow me to experiment and trial ideas. A greater understanding dawned and I developed my SYMMETRY system.
Just like a machine, we want all our parts working in harmony to create one outcome.
We want Symmetry.
Symmetry in power, Symmetry in strength, Symmetry in stability and Symmetry in flexibility, ultimately Symmetry in motion.
In so doing we will reduce injury and improve performance.
So now when you think of gait analysis it is not merely about terms such as pronation or supination, it is about the asymmetry allowing those movements to occur.
That asymmetry can lead to injury and it can lead to decreased performance and fatigue.
Using The SYMMETRY System to analyze your biomechanics it is possible to identify:
1) The injury /fatiguing structures
2) The abnormal biomechanics that have caused it.
3) The reason for the abnormal biomechanics
These three points are then treated individually and usually involve a multidisciplinary approach.
So what about all the other gait analysis offers out there?
Well, as a matter of good practice, I refer all my running patients to appropriate running stores. A store that deals with sport and not fashion: salespeople who actually run and have a passion and knowledge for it.
Having the correct footwear prescribed is one of the key steps in helping deal with point 2 in the SYMMETRY system.
What about high-end motion sensor and 3d gait analysis? Once again, depending on the level of sportsperson or severity of injury, further in-depth analysis may be required if other analytics cannot find the reason for point 3 in the SYMMETRY system.
I hope I have done this article justice and helped answer some questions that you as an athlete may have had.
In the end, gait analysis is not the be all and end all of improving your running goals; it is merely a tool used to develop an over all biomechanical picture: an instrument to help discover where your functional abnormalities lie.
Visit the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital stand at Run Reigate on 15th September for your free mini biomechanical and gait analysis with musculoskeletal podiatrist, Mr Jared Green (available until 12 midday). The first 50 people will also benefit from a free chill bottle. If you miss Jared on the day, he is offering all Run Reigate entrants 10% discount on a full assessment, this can be booked through the Physiotherapy department at Gatwick Park Hospital on 01293 778951.