What is Gait Analysis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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Gait analysis is the study of movement patterns while people and animals walk and run. There are many applications for gait analysis, including clinical diagnosis, anatomical study, and analysis of a patient for the purpose of fitting orthopedic devices. Gait labs for detailed analysis sessions are available, and it is also possible to conduct an informal analysis in any setting by having the subject walk and move while being closely observed by a gait expert.

Movement patterns while in motion can reveal important information about the subject of a gait analysis. Gait in people and many animals is well understood, and deviations from normal patterns can be indicative of nerve damage, injuries, anatomical abnormalities, and other problems. In a gait lab, cameras are trained on the subject and the subject may walk over force platforms that provide feedback as the subject moves through the lab. This information can be used to conduct a very detailed analysis. In a more casual setting, people can look for signs like limping, turned out ankles, and other gait irregularities.


In humans, gait analysis is often used for things like fitting athletic shoes and diagnosing people with medical issues related to gait. Patients with conditions like cerebral palsy and injuries that impact gait may be subjected to gait analysis to collect information about the specific nature of the condition. This information can be used to develop a physical therapy program, fit the patient with braces and specialized shoes, and monitor the patient through treatment to see how well the patient responds to the treatment.

In animals, gait analysis is used for similar purposes. Horses are among the most studied animals. This type of study may be used to monitor horses after injuries, to develop and test specialized corrective horseshoes, and to determine if a horse is sound and suitable for a given application. Racehorses, for example, need to be in excellent physical condition with no gait abnormalities, as gait problems can cause injuries or poor performance on the track. Likewise, horses used for physically demanding sports like jumping need very sound, strong limbs.

Experts in gait analysis charge varying fees for their services. Some medical professionals like equine vets and orthopedic doctors offer this service as part of a diagnosis and treatment plan, and will provide access to a gait lab for part of the patient fee. In cases where people are referred elsewhere for gait analysis, fees can be higher, reflecting the specialty nature of the service.


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Post 3

I was just at a sport shoes store and they did some gait analysis on me in order to decide what kind of shoes I need. They figured out that I roll my feet in a little bit when I run, which I could have already told them. They figured it out by filming me running and showing me where my heel strike was. I figured it out by looking at where on my shoes wears down the fastest.

It's good to get slightly more expensive running shoes if you can, but if you can't, you should still try to figure out what kind of gait you have and get appropriate shoes. For example, since I roll my feet, I need stable shoes, with a firm sole, so I always try to bend the shoe slightly from side to side before I buy it to see how stiff the sole is.

Post 2

@croydon - One of the sad things about that story is that Mr Muybridge lost his rights to the work when the chap he had been taking the photos for published them without giving him credit. He had been planning to continue his research using a grant based on that success, but since it was published without his name on it, the university withdrew its funding.

I think it is a real shame, as he was obviously talented enough to figure out how to do this in the first place. Who knows what else he could have come up with with that grant? I guess we will never know.

Post 1

One of the coolest things about gait analysis is that it was the basis for the very first moving picture.

There was a man who wanted to know if it was true that horses lifted all their legs off the ground at the same time while running, which is what most people believed a few hundred years ago.

So, he hired a Mr Muybridge to do a running gait analysis with a camera.

Actually he used several cameras which were triggered by the horse itself as it ran and caught it on film. The series of images, put together, created a moving picture, or a film.

And it answered the question, that in fact there is a moment at which a running horse has all its feet off the ground.

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