A person's gait is the motion he or she undertakes when walking or running forward. This gait can affect one's posture, especially if the muscles of the legs or the core muscles are underdeveloped. Gait and posture can also be related if a person starts with poor posture; this can lead to an altered walking gait, which can lead to pain or discomfort while walking or sitting. People who suffer from chronic back pain may consider having a gait analysis done to find out if his or her gait and posture are affecting each other.
Many of the muscles that affect one's gait will also have an effect on the lower back, which means gait and posture can both be affected by the breakdown of muscle tissue, the inefficiency of the bones or muscles in the back, and so on. Many back pain sufferers will often exhibit signs of gait and posture problems at the same time, and either the gait may cause poor posture, or poor posture can alter one's gait. When a person slouches, for example, the weight distribution of the body is altered and moved forward. The person's gait will therefore be altered as well to account for this redistributed weight, potentially leading to pain in the feet, legs, hips, or back.
A person's gait can be affected by several factors, including foot or leg pronation, underdeveloped muscles, altered joint function, and conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, and so on. When the normal movement of the legs is altered, other parts of the body may compensate for the abnormal movement by moving into supportive positions not normal or comfortable for the body. The spine, for example, may end up bending in ways it would not normally bend to absorb shock the legs are not absorbing. This can lead to spinal compression or poor posture, providing yet another link between gait and posture.
One way to figure out if gait and posture are being affected adversely is to visit a doctor or other professional who can do a gait and posture analysis. The doctor may refer the person to a professional athletic trainer who can help the person adjust his posture and gait, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine to help that person avoid back pain. Correcting one's gait can also help alleviate pain in the legs and hips, which can in turn create a healthier spine, neck, and shoulders.