As part of my ongoing Continued Professional Development (CPD) at the Drummond Clinic, I have overseen a number of Full Gait Analyses (FGA). Most people booked in for an FGA are either training for a specific event, or are wanting help to diagnose why they have some form of injury. As I am contemplating attempting a 10k running event later this year, and have had a niggling knee injury, now would be the perfect time to turn the camera and spotlight on myself and find out if there are any notable issues that I might be unaware of.
Looking in the mirror I see a fairly well ‘balanced‘ and ‘even’, almost ‘straight’ person staring back at me, but is this what the camera will see?
To begin with, I needed to complete the medical questionnaire which details my current sporting activity and any current and or historical injuries.
Next, the active part.
I was a little reluctant at first as I’d not been for a run in a number of weeks due to my knee niggle, but this had now gone. The actual running time during the FGA is fairly short, so I knew I could cope with a couple of minutes.
I am asked to walk on the treadmill adorned with my standard running trainers (which I confess are now five years old….shhh). I then crank it up to my normal running pace, and a speed resembling my normal run. All good so far. Then we repeat the walk and run but this time in bare foot; however, I’m now starting to feel a little less co-ordinated and unsupported without the safety of my shoes. All the while the video analysis equipment is taking footage of my running style.
Force Plate Analysis
Just when you think it’s over, the focus is then turned to the force plate… a fancy bit of kit that you can stand on, walk or run over, and which captures images of your footprint and any notable instabilities. The great part about this is you can see what your foot is doing whilst you are running, and perhaps more specifically, what if any differences are occurring between the left and right foot during the time your foot is in contact with the ground (or in this case, the pressure plate).
So what’s the verdict?
We have a look at the footage and it is surprising what can be seen, especially when the video is slowed to a frame-by-frame shot. There I was thinking I had a pretty good running style and that I was beautifully even and level, but alas not!! Under closer inspection I could clearly see that my torso has an interesting rotation to the left… perhaps linked to many years of rowing in the past. It also appears that my left knee had an interesting waver during my stride; which in turn was affecting how my left foot was striking the ground. Given it was my right ankle that I broke many years ago, if anything, I was expecting the right side of my body to show anomalies, not the left. Hmmm…could I have been compensating for this right ankle problem, and if so… how long have I been doing this unbeknown to myself???
Linking the video footage with the force plate readings only reinforced that my left foot and leg were in fact doing very different things to that of my right; again an interesting waver during my gait. But what next?
Using the visual information that had been gleaned from the video and force plate assessments we then moved to the treatment room to check my muscle flexibility and joint mobility, to see how this may correlate with my biomechanical and functional movement patterns.
Through a few simple flexibility and stability tests, it became apparent that my left gluteal muscle was not engaging as well as my right (but surely a softer backside is all part of the aging process!?). Well maybe, but the implications were that my pelvis showed a weakness on the left, which then appears to be manifesting itself in my ‘wavering’ knee and thereafter how my foot was possibly reacting when loading my body weight (and multiples there off) onto it. The right side of my body was looking, dare I say, ‘normal’.
At the end of the assessment, a series of recommendations were discussed, including, unsurprisingly, that my current training shoe was long overdue for renewal. The assessment has highlighted the fact that if I were to take up some form of regular running without improving my current gluteal and core stability, there is a potential that I could develop an injury to the joints and muscles to the lower back or left knee, or even cause a ‘compensation’ related injury to occur elsewhere, due to my body needing to work harder to compensate for my current asymmetries.
It was also suggested that, following a period of re-training and consolidation, that I review my gait again, to check whether my efforts have helped to correct my foot stability, or whether I will need to consider the inclusion of a custom orthotic within my footwear to achieve this final goal and piece of the puzzle.
In summary then, I learnt a lot about how and why my body is moving the way it is, and what areas I need to work on. Indeed, something that might appear relatively insignificant (or unapparent) now, may become an issue if left unresolved and a blocker to any training and event aspirations that I may have for the future!
It is not just serious athletes or those requiring orthotics that can benefit from having a FGA – a truly interesting insight that I would recommend to anyone!
Read more about our Gait Analysis.