Resolving your Problem with Advanced Gait Analysis and Biomechanics

Your feet and ankles are complex load-bearing structures with many interconnected moving parts. That is why gait analysis is critical to determine the underlying cause of most foot and lower extremity conditions. The fact is many problems can be treated most effectively by addressing mechanical function. At the Foot and Ankle Center of Washington, our doctors provide a unique level of advanced training, some are the areas most focused, experienced, and even regional and national reputations in lower-extremity biomechanics. Biomechanical care may include orthotic devices, shoes, shoe modifications, exercises, physical therapy and other modalities.

Gait Analysis – Evaluating How You Walk and Run

Many foot problems occur because of improper function of the foot during gait. Analyzing how your feet and legs function when you walk can provide us with a lot of information to use when designing a treatment plan to help make you feel better.

Abnormal gait biomechanics may cause foot problems such as arch pain, heel pain and bunions. In addition, alterations in foot function can lead to problems with your knees, hips, or back. Both doctors are experts in human biomechanics and will help you find the cause of your problems and the most appropriate treatment.

Some of the items we look for when performing a gait analysis include:

  • How hard do your feet hit the ground? If your feet hit the ground excessively hard the increased shock can damage tissue. If this is the case we may decide you need additional cushioning under the heels or ball of your feet.
  • Is there abnormal motion occurring that can damage tissue and cause pain? If so we may use orthotic devices to limit that damaging motion.
  • Are your feet functioning symmetrically? If one foot rolls in more than the other that puts abnormal strain on the pelvis and back and can lead to lower back pain among other conditions.
  • Does one leg appear to be longer than the other? Limb length discrepancies can lead to a number of lower extremity problems.

How do we analyze your gait?

Watching you Walk

First, we simply watch you walk. Most significant gait abnormalities we can identify with simple visual analysis of how you walk. We understand how the feet should function and have analyzed tens of thousands of people walking throughout our careers.

While watching you walk we are also paying especially close attention to the areas of your feet that are causing you problems. If you have painful bunions, for example, we will be watching how the big toe joint is functioning while you walk.

Gait Analysis Apps

iPad and iPhone apps allow for a surprisingly sophisticated level of gait analysis in an office setting. We use several gait analysis apps to allow us to evaluate your gait in fractions of a second increments.

Advanced Gait Analysis

Our in-office gait analysis is appropriate for a vast majority of patients. Some patients, however, require a level of gait analysis that cannot be performed in an office setting. Those patients are referred to sophisticated gait analysis labs for more in-depth gait analysis.

Testing at a gait analysis lab might include:

3D Running Analysis

Using a treadmill with built-in force pressure measurement, runners are evaluated with sophisticated 3D cameras to determine even subtle abnormalities in motion that may lead to injury in pain. Running can be measured under different situations by altering speed, shoes, orthotics, duration and incline.

3D Walking Analysis

The walking analysis is very similar to the running analysis and is a valuable tool to help identify abnormal forces that may lead to many lower extremity injuries ranging from the feet up to the lower back. As with the running analysis, many different situations can be tested including changes in shoes, orthotics, incline and duration of walking. This can be a valuable test for those with arthritis in the feet or knees to help us determine how to best design orthotics to reduce arthritis pain. In addition, the walking analysis allows for barefoot evaluation of foot and ankle function. Pressure under the feet can be measured to help determine what changes should be made in shoes and/or orthotics for best pain relief.

Advanced Gait Analysis Labs

Unfortunately, there are no advanced gait labs in Seattle (or Washington state). Until 2020 we would send patients to Fortius Sport and Health in Burnaby, British Columbia near Vancouve but they closed during the pandemic. Currently we have no referral sources for advanced gait analysis.

Video: Foot Biomechanics Explained with Animation

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