Analyze This: Your Gait
Some of our actions are second nature. Walking, yawning, and even brushing your teeth – there are some things that we just don’t think about while we are doing it. But maybe it’s time for us to pause for a moment and think about the way we walk.
If you’ve never thought about it before, it may seem strange to analyze the way you walk, also called your gait. Where do you even start? What do you look for? And why should you do it? Read further and we’ll help you figure it out!
Where to start:
- Stand up straight. Do whatever you think that means. Now analyze how you stand. Your posture should include: a neutral neck, shoulders back, chest a bit forward and slight curve in your spine. Think of it as lifting the upper part of your body to straighten and lengthen the spine.
- Now see assess how you hold your weight. After a little while, are you shifting your weight to one leg or the other? Did you hunch your shoulders and lose the curve in your spine? Are your feet flat on the ground? Or do you have an arch? (If you have flat feet and have foot or ankle pain, consult with our podiatrist) When you have bad form while standing, it may also affect the way that you walk.
- Next, walk (barefoot) normally across the room. You will have to do this a few times to really understand your foot and ankle positioning while you walk.
What to look for:
- First feel for how your feet touch the ground. Your foot strike should go in the order of: heel, midfoot, ball of the foot, toes. Some people may walk on the tips of their toes or stomp the entire foot down with each step. Toe walkers may have a habit since childhood, perhaps along with an issue in the soft-tissue along the bottom of the feet. Stepping with the entire foot can cause higher impact on the joints.
- While you are checking for stomping, plug your ears with your fingers and walk across the room again. Does it sound loud? Try again, while walking a bit softer to reduce impact.
- Next, check the weight distribution on your feet. Do you tend to put more pressure on the insides or outsides of the feet? The way you pronate can affect or be affected by the ligaments and tendons in the ankles. If you have pain, check your pronation.
- Then, check for the direction of your toes. They should be facing forward. Are they facing inward (in-toeing) or outward (out-toeing)? This could say something about the structure of your legs.
Why you should analyze your gait:
- Gait issues can cause problems down the road. The wear and tear on your soft-tissues can mean pain. Joint issues can be worse with arthritis. Muscles and bones can become deformed.
- Your shoes may wear down faster if you have gait issues. Check your shoe’s outer soles to see if it’s wearing down unevenly, looking on the inside vs. outside part of the feet, or front vs. back.
- You can also see where you might be getting foot pain from by analyzing your gait. For example, if you are pronating, it may help to get arch supports.
If you are unsure about checking your gait on your own, we can help you. Come in for a gait analysis by contacting our podiatrist at Texas Foot Works. Dr. Jonathan M. Kletz is ready to help. Make an appointment today at any of our Abrams (Dallas), Athens, and Gun Barrell City, TX offices!