Foot & Ankle Gait Evaluation
Chances are you probably don’t think all that often about how you walk or run. These are skills we learn as kids, and simply become natural.
But the truth is, the way that you walk and move—also known as your gait—is as unique to you as your face, your voice, or your fingerprint. The angle your legs and feet make while standing or during a stride, whether you over- or under-pronate, how much your hips move, what part of your foot strikes the ground first—all these and more are part of your biomechanics and gait cycle.
Unfortunately, gait mechanics that vary quite a bit from the “normal” range can have negative consequences for your health, safety, and even athletic performance. That’s when a gait evaluation comes in handy. By taking a closer look at how you move, a biomechanics expert like Dr. Victoria Melhuish can help you spot and address problem areas so you can stay on your feet without pain.
What Is a Gait Evaluation?
In a gait evaluation, a professional carefully observes how your feet, ankles, legs, knees, and hips move and interact as you walk or run.
One way this can be accomplished is by having you run on a treadmill for a few minutes in front of a video camera. This allows us to pick out and identify small details like where your foot strike occurs, how much your feet are pronating during the loading phase, and your cadence.
We may also use more sophisticated pieces of technology in our office to assist with the evaluation, including real-time pressure scanning. This gives us an extremely detailed “map” of how weight and pressure are being distributed across your feet at each point of the gait cycle.
Why Should I Get a Gait Evaluation?
The goal of all this observation is not simply to assess trouble spots, but also to derive solutions. Learning more about your own gait can help you understand why certain injuries may be occurring. It may also teach you how to avoid them in the future, so that you can run longer and healthier with less pain.
Some of the key benefits of getting a gait analysis include:
- Injury prevention. If you find yourself frequently dealing with heel pain, shin splints, or other sources of pain and injury associated with your physical activity, it’s very likely that a flaw in your gait is at least partly responsible.
- Performance maximization. Poor biomechanical form may be keeping you from training as hard as you want to, getting maximum efficiency from your stride, or setting new personal bests. Analyzing your gait can help you improve your form, improve your performance, and have more fun.
- Custom orthotics optimization. We use the advanced Go 4-D orthotics system at our office, which incorporates gait sensing data as well as 3D digital scanning of your feet to design 3D-printed orthotics that are perfectly matched to your precise gait dynamics. You can read more about it here.
To give you just a few examples of how gait analyses can be used to improve your life, sore knees that bend too far in or out may be corrected by strengthening gluteal muscles. Stress fractures caused by over-striding may be prevented by shortening your stride and quickening your cadence. Pronation problems may be addressed with specialized footwear or custom orthotics. And so on.
Why Sierra Foot & Ankle?
At Sierra Foot & Ankle, we are passionate about biomechanics. Our physician, Dr. Victoria Melhuish, is a biomechanics expert with a deep understanding and a unique perspective—she actually studied to be a structural engineer before deciding to become a podiatrist!
That passion led us to being one of the only podiatry clinics in the area to have our own on-site orthotics lab, and later become the first in the area with the new cutting-edge Go 4-D system.
Poor gait mechanics are an underlying contributing cause in a huge percentage of painful conditions and injuries, including heel pain, shin splints, stress fractures, tendinitis, and even recurring traumatic injuries like sprains. Gait analyses help us address the causes of these problems and not just the symptoms, so you break the cycle and get back to your life with confidence!
If foot problems are keeping you from staying active or playing your best, please contact our office today for a professional gait analysis and treatment options. You can reach our Carson City office by calling (775) 783-8037, or by contacting us online using the form below.