Gait analysis

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Dr. Bryan Scotson Smith

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How does Gait Analysis work?


How is it used?


Looking to find out more about this technique?

Gait analysis is a technical way of observing and identifying problems, when walking or running.

How do we use Gait Analysis at the clinic?

When we use Gait analysis, it is part of a more comprehensive consultation process.

During that consultation, the podiatrist will ask a number of questions, and carry out a physical examination where necessary, to learn more about the issue that you are having.  They will then carry out any tests, of which gait analysis is just one option. Other tests could be a nerve test, or mobilisation test for example.  As a result we don’t allow people to book directly for gait analysis as this may not be the most appropriate test for you.
If gait analysis is required, it may happen on a treadmill or it may happen watching and monitoring you walk on a flat, non-moving surface.  

The experienced podiatrist will decide what tests are required in your particular circumstances.

Why is it not right for everyone?

Gait analysis shows you how someone moves when walking or running on a treadmill, which is often very different to moving (e.g. walking or running) in day to day life. The moving belt on a treadmill throws your foot in a different way to e.g. a still pavement.

What are the different types of gait analysis?

There are 2 main types, machine lead and practitioner lead. Machines often create confidence in the patient (as people always like a bit of kit) but create an artificial environment. Practitioners observe by eye. The advantage of the second method is that it can be done in a more natural way, which is why we normally leave our gait analysis treadmill alone, unless it is very particular circumstances.

How is it done and who does gait analysis?

When gait analysis is carried out it is quite often done on a treadmill using sensors and tech to capture your movement patterns. However, it can also be done by a trained professional, by observing you walking off of the treadmill, on the floor.

Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors are the main groups of people that carry out gait analysis, as they are all involved with human movement.

What does it tell you?

The metrics printed out from a gait analysis can include things like difference in ground strike between the right and left feet, assessment of heel lift and toeing off times, and a whole host of other metrics. However, these are all e.g. ground strike on a moving belt not ground strike on a still pavement etc.

Gait analysis is often banded around as if it’s a magic wand. Sadly it isn’t. Conditions are often far more complex, even if it is perceived as ‘just a niggle’. To stop that niggle developing into a serious, chronic, condition means it needs to be fully understood.

What is it used for and is it worth it? What are the benefits?

Most people use gait analysis when they have some kind of pain that they are trying to get to the bottom of, but in our opinion gait analysis is rarely the whole answer.

In the wrong hands they can be used to blind people with science and stats to eg purchase expensive insoles. It depends on the practitioner using the equipment. Quite often practitioners use the machine to give confidence to the patient, as people often trust machinery more than the humans. In conversations at conferences with other podiatrists, it is often commented that they do their actual gait analysis as the patient walks to the treadmill, unbeknown to the patient, as this is when they are walking unselfconsciously, so more representative of their real walk or movement.

Is gait analysis useful for runners?

Runners that present in our clinic often have chronic conditions as they often put up with niggles and don’t get them seen to straight away (telling a runner not to run is harder than getting blood out of a stone, it’s basically not going to happen!). As a result for us gait analysis is only a tiny part of the picture. It is far more important to carry out a thorough assessment.

If you are in pain…

If you are suffering with pain or a niggle, please click on the relevant are below to see how we can help you:

1. Foot Pain

2. Ankle Pain

3. Arthritis

4. Sports Injury

Ready To Book?

Please call our reception team on 01325 639025 to book an appointment.
We are located in Darlington, Co. Durham, close to Middlesbrough, Stockton and Yarm in Teesside/Cleveland.