A biomechanical assessment is an investigation into your lower limb function, to identify any abnormalities that may cause pain or discomfort. Many people have an assessment because problems with their feet, lower limbs, knee, hips or back impact their day-to-day lives and activities.
Gait is the manner of your style of walking. It refers to the movement you use to walk or run.
Walking may appear to be a simple activity. However strength, coordination, and sensation, is required to enable a person to walk with a gait that is considered normal and these factors can be affected by our activity levels, genetics, injury, ageing, fitness, diet, environment and so on….
When does gait become abnormal?
When one or more of these interdependent systems are not functioning properly, an abnormal gait or walking disorder may result.
Keeping this in mind…
You are not required to have an abnormal gait in order to undergo a biomechanical assessment.
Biomechanical or gait assessment can be a highly effective method for determining if you have any areas of weakness or habits that are causing your body to endure extra strain. It can also be used to determine the type of orthotics / footwear which will help to correct that strain or any foot posture issues.
It can also be used to analyse your walking or running mechanics. In the case of running, it helps improving your running speed and endurance as well as reducing your risk of injury.
So, do you need a biomechanical assessment?
The simplest answer is depending on your symptoms and their presentation.
Gait analysis is used to assess and treat patients with conditions that affect their ability to walk, run or maintain balance. It is also commonly used in sports biomechanics to help athletes run more efficiently and to identify postural or movement-related problems in injured individuals.
Gaining a better understanding of your walking/running gait, biomechanics and style is possible through gait analysis. This will help you determine what type of gait you have and identify the type of support may improve your function and whether you need insoles or new shoes.
In some instances, we may recommend a biomechanical assessment to prevent the development of ulcers in people with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis and problematic feet. We use the results of the assessment to design and manufacture orthotics and advise on footwear to reduce pressure on a specific area.
If you are suffering with ongoing pain and you think you need a biomechanical assessment complete the form. Our Podiatrists can tell you more about your treatment options, help you return to comfort quickly and let you get on with more important things in life.
Or download a copy of our leaflet: Why Wear Orthotics
How do we carry out a biomechanical assessment?
We assess you using a combination of visual assessments and look at you seated, standing, balancing, walking and if relevant running we use video recording of the examination and pressure gait analysis.
We observe how you walk or move during the visual gait analysis. That might require you to walk down a corridor away from us and then back towards us. We combine a visual gait analysis with a video recording of the examination.
A video recording permits us to observe your walking gait in slow motion. A slow-motion video enables us to observe and analyses on a 2D scale specific elements that can be viewed repeatedly in slow motion, for example your cadence, how many steps you take per minute and how your foot strikes the ground.
We also use plate pressure technology to we can look at the forces affecting your foot as it meets the floor when you walk or run and identify areas of overloading or stress and anomalies in the way your feet function.
When do we use gait analysis in clinic?
If you have aches and pains, such as hip, knee, foot, or ankle pain, worsened or triggered by movement and activity, then this is a strong indication that we may want to examine your locomotion.
We may want to examine your walking gait or muscle structures to determine if we can make any adjustments to make this process easier on your skeleton. We have pressure plate and video technology in our clinic, however, not every patient who walks through our doors will receive this analysis because they do not require it.
So how do we decide if someone should have a biomechanical assessment or not?
We must consider what the mechanism of injury is. What is the likelihood and contributing factors for a person to experience pain? Is it due to a training error? Is it the result of a traumatic event or injury? Or is it due to something like overloading over a period of time?
Biomechanical assessment is not limited to sports injuries and we assess and examine patients of all ages and activity levels with the aim of improving their comfort and quality of life. That said we do see a lot of patients who develop problems after increasing their activity levels or starting a new sport.
Training Error or chronic injury?
If you suddenly develop a niggle in your knee or ankle after going from running five miles per week to fifty miles per week, that is an excessive increase. This is referred to as a training error. This is probably not a result of your running style, but rather the way you manage your training structure and may resolve quickly if allowed to rest and recover.
If you decide to make a “change” in order to improve something, your body may not be able to adapt as well to that change and there is a greater risk of injury. To reduce this risk it is important to make changes gradual with incremental increases in training and listen to your body reducing activity if you start to develop aches and pains which do not resolve quickly when you stop exercising.
However, if injury occurs despite the fact that your training load has not changed, there is no trauma, it may have been occurring for some time, or you may have suffered from multiple injuries and niggles in the past or the injury becomes a prolonged issue and does not resolve itself, then, gait analysis could be considered the optimal next step.
What about if you increase your exercise but remain pain free? Do you still need a gait analysis?
If you are pain-free and exhibiting no symptoms, this indicates that your body is adapting to what it is experiencing.
If it is not broken then don’t fix it!!!
We treat you as a patient, not as the data generated by the gait analysis. Even though you may have a condition, it does not necessarily pose a problem. People can walk and run in a variety of ways, and it is important to recognise that there is no single optimal pattern of movement. You can move in multiple patterns and variations and still achieve the same result.