What Is Gait Analysis and How Does It Work?

If you’ve been running or playing sports or are a clinician that works with athletes, chances are you’ve asked yourself, “what is gait analysis?” The answer is critical for reaching your full potential as an athlete or serious runner.

Without understanding how your body moves — and how that, in turn, impacts things like foot function, athletic performance and more — you will have a harder time reaching your full potential. A complete gait analysis might be just the ticket, even if you’re a non-athlete tired of having foot or leg pain.

Understanding why requires understanding what gait is, how analysis works, and how you can put the resulting information to work for you.

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What Is the Gait Cycle?

The first element to answering the question of “what is gait analysis?” is the gait cycle. Whether walking or running, your movement follows a gait pattern that moves you from step to step and stride to stride.

There are eight phases, which include:

  1. Initial contact, where your foot first strikes the floor
  2. Loading response, where your body shifts weight to that leg
  3. Mid stance, where your foot has complete contact with the floor
  4. Terminal stance, where the leg falls behind as your other leg moves
  5. Pre-swing, as it lifts from the floor
  6. Initial swing, once it’s in the air
  7. Mid-swing, as the foot comes forward again
  8. Terminal swing, as the leg finishes one stride and prepares for another foot strike

A person’s gait is an individualized pattern made up of elements such as stride length, pronation or supination (whether the foot rolls in or out), favoring old injuries and natural body mechanics. Taken together, they may make for a healthy gait or one that makes you more prone to accident and injury.

Determining where your gait is can give you useful information. That’s where a gait analysis comes in.

What Is Gait Analysis?

Whether you’re concerned about your running form or your range of motion as an older adult, gait analysis is an important concept. Getting one can mean the difference between improving or … not.

So, what is gait analysis? It is the guided process of measuring your gait. Using sensors in shoes or on a walkway, researchers and clinicians will gather data on your gait as you move naturally. The data will feed into a software program, transforming it into mind-blowing statistics, three-dimensional pictures and videos of how you’re moving.

Experts can then use this media to look, frame by frame, at what your foot is doing at any given moment. This will paint an accurate picture of your body mechanics, those that are healthy as well as those that are not.

Then the fun begins.

What Can You Do With Gait Analysis Data?

The final piece of the puzzle is what you can do with the data once you have it. Luckily, gait analysis provides many benefits. For instance:

  • Type of running shoe: By using technology to figure out how your foot moves and what your entire gait cycle looks like, experts can help you pick the best shoe for your body and training needs. This will not only reduce the risk of injury over time, but it will also help you get faster.
  • Treatment plans: If you’re injured and rehabilitating, you need the right treatment plans to help minimize your recovery time and maximize your body’s stability. Understanding how the foot and leg move can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of these plans.
  • Physical examination: If you’re seeking information about a more global mechanical problem in your body, a gait analysis should be part of that.
  • Strength training and speed training: Whether you want to be stronger, faster, or both, gait analysis can help you get there. It will point out minor flaws in how you’re moving so that you can correct them and see the strength and speed you’re looking for.

XSENSOR provides a detailed and reliable solution to help measure gait through our insole pressure mapping and walkway and stance pads. The data can support treatment plans by using real-world insights to adjust or create new plans.

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