Gait refers to a person’s movement and gestures. It involves actions like walking, running, skipping, hopping, and other movements that bring the body from point A to B. ‘Gait Analysis’ is a specialised method or set of methods designed to assess the way a person performs these actions. A gait analysis can highlight different biomechanical abnormalities.
To avoid injuries, the body needs to move efficiently. Keeping your joints healthy is critical to providing your body sufficient range of movement and giving your muscles the ability to produce enough force, which is vital in generating an efficient gait cycle. Stiff joints and tight muscles limit the body's range of motion and make the muscles weak. As a natural response, the body compensates for the problem—and this may lead to biomechanical abnormalities such as overpronation and oversupination, increased Q angle, hip hiking or hitching (lifting of the hip on one side), ankle equinus (limited ankle dorsiflexion), and pelvic tilt (anterior, posterior, or lateral tilt). These biomechanical problems are usually caused by muscular imbalances such as tight muscles working against weaker muscles. Other times, they are caused by structural problems like leg length discrepancies that result in hip hiking.
Gait analysis, which usually involves walking/running on a treadmill, is performed by a trained professional such as an osteopath, physiotherapist or podiatrist. In most cases, a professional simply watches the way that the test-taker moves, with particular emphasis on the feet, ankles, hips, and knees. In a specialist setting, however, a video recorder is usually set up behind the treadmill to film your gait cycle. The clip is later relayed to a laptop where freeze frames and slow motion images can be used to assess your movements more carefully. This kind of gait analysis puts focus on the ankles and feet.