Gait analysis is a systematic way to look at running or walking biomechanics. This generally includes the use of multiple high- speed video cameras and computerized software programs that can slow the videos down for the evaluator to look at mechanics frame by frame. Specially trained evaluators look at what happens at each joint in the body with each phase of the gait cycle. Simple things like a larger than normal stride length can cause problems from hamstring and ITB pain, to heel pain and plantar fasciitis. By looking at all the little motions and how they come together as a whole, a trained evaluator can use these movement patterns and deviations to determine where breakdowns are occurring in the body. Combining the musculoskeletal (strength, flexibility & balance) findings with the video biomechanics analysis gives a wealth of information that can be used to create a “Blueprint for Success” for each individual. Each runner or athlete is different- and their programs should be specifically designed for their unique issues. This is definitely not a “One Size Fits All” type of program.
In addition to video analysis, a good running or walking evaluation should include a head to toe musculoskeletal assessment for flexibility, strength, and balance. Each joint should be evaluated to look for stiffness and limited motion, as well as hypermobility- or too much motion. Shoe wear and current orthotics should also be evaluated for wear patterns and to make sure they are providing adequate support to the runner or walker.
There are many injuries that are often caused, at least in part, by poor biomechanics. Runners and athletes whose sports require a high level of running and jumping can benefit from a high quality gait analysis to avoid overuse injuries.
The following are a list of common injuries that may be in part caused by poor biomechanics:
- Shin Splints
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Achilles Pain/Tendonitis
- IT Band Problems
- Low Back Pain or Sacroiliac Pain
- Hip Pain
- Knee Pain
A specific strength, flexibility, & balance program, good biomechanics, and the appropriate shoe wear are important for healthy running and walking activities. Training regimens that increase mileage too quickly, or ones that do not allow adequate rest between bouts of training- or training for multiple races without rest can also contribute to chronic aches and pains.
If you are experiencing pain that comes and goes, or pain that is nagging and you cannot figure out the cause– this type of evaluation may be right for you.
If you have pain (even after trying all those exercises you found on the internet), this type of evaluation may be right for you.
Dr. Jennifer Allen is a Physical Therapist, Board Certified Clinical Specialist in the Areas of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, as well as a Certified Hand Therapist. Sports Programming at Bodycentral Physical Therapy includes Biomechanics assessment, video movement assessment, Injury Prevention, and individual and team performance enhancement. For more information visit www.BodycentralPT.netor call 520-325-4002.