Musculo-skeletal care:

Gait Analysis and Biomechanics

 











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All gait analysis patients are initially seen for a 60 minute assessment appointment.


During the consultation we will take a detailed medical history, in addition to the physical assessment. It helps us greatly if you complete a medical history form and bring it with you (please download a copy here). We record details including your: name, address, telephone number, email address, date of birth, GP name and address, past and current medical history, allergies, medication, and any previous Podiatry treatment.


This is known as your minimum data set and recording it is a legal requirement. We keep all the information you give us confidentially, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Health Professions Council, and the Data Protection Act (we are registered data users registered with the Information Commission).





















In most cases a treatment plan will be determined at your first appointment, you may be fitted with over the counter orthotics or a mould taken for custom orthotics. These are fitted at a later date.



What is GA & Bio?


It is the study of normal mechanics in the musculo-skeletal system. To assess biomechanics is to analyse the forces and their effects on anatomic structures such as bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. In reality we rarely see normal biomechanics in anyone, we see a degree of pathology (abnormal mechanics or deviation of movement from the norm) the study of which we call pathomechanics.

 

How do we assess a person’s mechanics?

 

As humans we are either static (at rest) or dynamic (moving). Therefore, we assess you in the same ways, we lie you flat and examine your normal joint positions (range and quality of motion) from the hips down and watch you walking or running (called gait analysis).

 













Why is this important?

 

From these assessments we can see how you walk or run and whether or not the position your joints function in is responsible for causing symptoms such as bunions, corns, callus, knee pain, ankle pain, shin splints, etc. If the symptoms are caused by abnormal (pathological) function we can attempt to treat the cause of the symptoms.

 

How do we treat people with abnormal function?

 

There are many ways that include: physiotherapy, simple exercises, special taping and strapping, special insoles called orthoses or a change in footwear. To make the orthoses we  take a plaster of paris cast and send them to a laboratory with your prescription (the analysis of your mechanics determines the type of insole you require). The orthoses are worn in your shoes or trainers (if prescribed for sports problems) and maintain your feet in their ideal position reducing the need for the body to compensate, therefore, reducing the symptoms you experience.

 

What are orthoses?

 


 















Orthoses that are prescribed by the Podiatrist and custom-made for your feet, and should not be confused with over-the-counter arch supports. These may help the occasional patient with minor arch discomfort, but they frequently fail because they do not properly control foot function and/or do not properly fit the patients feet.

 

The consumer should beware of individuals with little or inadequate training, who hold themselves out as experts on foot problems and orthoses. Only the Podiatrist and Orthopaedic Surgeon (occasionally some highly trained Physiotherapists) can diagnose foot problems and offer alternative treatment plans.

 

What can cause abnormal function?

 

Many things is the simple answer, however, think of abnormal function as the joints being in the wrong position during walking or running and, therefore, being malaligned. Malalignments can be congenital (things you are born with), like knock knees which forces the foot into a flat position, or the problem may be due to a muscle imbalance, for example: tight hamstrings often cause knee pain and a short stride length, or a whole list of other things:

 

  1. -people can develop problems after surgery because the procedure has changed the       shape of the foot

  2. -problems can also be due to poor posture. Repeating an activity several times each day in the wrong position (repetitive strain) may cause muscle or joint pain

  3. -sports injuries e.g. sprains and strains, etc.

 

Our bodies will often try to compensate i.e. reposition themselves, to allow for the malalignment e.g. flat feet or pronation. This in itself may or may not cause problems when walking and running.

 

How long does the assessment last?

 

Usually a minimum of an hour. You are required to lie still whilst we measure you and check your joint function (don’t worry it doesn’t hurt) and walk up and down repeatedly in shorts so that we can see how you biomechanically function. We may want to video your walking/running and sometimes use a treadmill.

 














Who should have biomechanics and gait analysis?

 

This is easy to answer. Anyone with a foot problem which may be caused by biomechanical dysfunction. Symptoms do not arise because they want to there is always an underlying cause! Find the cause, treat it successfully and the problem should improve (and may even go away). This does not, however, mean we can help everyone - if a problem is of very long standing it may be difficult or too late to treat.