Approximately 79% of all runners get injured at least once a year even if they have the right shoes and a well-planned training program. Gait Analysis Physical Therapy is a form of treatment that involves evaluating your injury history, your present physical condition, and steps you may need to take to properly train or condition your body.
What is Gait Analysis?
Most people think gait analysis is done when you are fitted for running shoes in a sports footwear store. Gait analysis measures the exact angles and degrees of your knees, ankles, and hips while walking or running. It is the process by which information is gathered to fully understand the cause of gait abnormalities.
Gait analysis can help identify unique movements, determine normal gait patterns, and diagnose issues that cause pain.
What is Gait Analysis Physical Therapy?
When data is gathered to determine the cause of gait abnormalities, your physical therapist will create a treatment plan best suited for your limitations and mobility goals. He/she will evaluate your injury history, your present physical condition, and the steps you may need to take to train or condition your entire body.
The evaluation that your therapist will conduct will look at factors such as:
- Center of force (CoF)
- Step time
- Swing time
- Stride length
- Weight distribution
Runners may be asked questions about their training such as:
- What is your level of experience in running?
- How many miles do you run every week?
- What shoes do you wear for running?
- What type of surface do you run on – a track, street, or a trail?
- What is your weight?
- Do you have blisters or hot spots during runs?
- Do you experience excessive pain and/or numbness?
- Do you have a history of past injuries?
- Do you plan to change your mileage or running time in the near future?
- Are you training for any competition?
Why is Running Gait Analysis Physical Therapy Important?
When your normal gait is altered by pain or injury, this can give you stress and make you feel worse. You tend to alter movements to compensate for the pain and this may lead to the development of musculoskeletal problems. On the other hand, if you choose to limit your movements to avoid pain, you may experience a decrease in cardiovascular health. With gait analysis physical therapy, you will be given a treatment program that will help correct gait abnormalities or work around an injury until you are healed.
What are Other Benefits of Gait Physical Therapy?
Gait therapy can help you:
- Improve your ability to stand or walk
- Gain independence in walking even if you need an adaptive device
- Improve your balance and posture
- Strengthen your muscles and joints
- Develop your muscle memory
- Build your endurance
- Retrain your legs for repetitive movement
- Reduce your risk of falls as you increase your mobility
- Lower your risk of illnesses such as osteoporosis and heart disease by increasing your physical activity and mobility
- Improve your overall health
Who can Benefit From Gait Analysis Physical Therapy?
Your doctor may recommend gait therapy if you have lost your ability to walk or run due to an illness, injury, or other health condition. Some conditions that can make walking difficult are:
- Fractured legs or pelvis
- Joint injuries or replacements
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Foot pain
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Shin splints
- Amputations of the lower limb
- Injuries of the spinal cord
- Strokes or neurological disorders
- Muscular dystrophy or other musculoskeletal disorders
- Brain injuries (children)
What Physical Therapy Tools for Walking are Used in Gait Therapy?
Doctors encourage their patients to start gait therapy as soon as possible after an illness or injury that affects your ability to walk or run. You must be healthy enough for physical activity before you begin therapy. Your joints must also be strong enough to support your body during gait training.
Some tools and methods used in gait analysis physical therapy are:
- Strength training
This includes exercises such as shifting body weight between each leg, standing on one leg, calf raises, and other repetitive exercises that strengthen specific muscle groups.
- Balance and core training
Walking is a full-body function that can be improved when you train your legs and core.
- Task-specific training
This type of training directly involves walking:
- Treadmill training
- Intensive mobility training
- Riding a stationary bicycle
- Getting up and sitting down in a chair
- Functional electrical stimulation
At Vigor Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, we offer gait analysis physical therapy. We will help you identify problem areas, habits, and recurring injuries.
We provide superior care and patient-centered service. We are committed to your health and wellness.
If you have questions regarding gait analysis physical therapy or if you have other ailments requiring physical or occupational therapy, contact us today by phone or email. You can also drop by our office.