We log thousands of steps each day, and if something is mechanically off with our walking pattern, it can lead to pain or abnormal degeneration of different areas of your body, like your knee or ankle joints. There are a number of different reasons why you may have an abnormal or irregular walking pattern, but we’ve yet to find an issue that we haven’t been able to correct or at least help improve. Below, we take a closer look at how a physical therapist can help improve your walking pattern.
Physical Therapy For Gait Imbalances
Your walking pattern, also sometimes referred to as your stride or gait, impacts how weight is dispersed through a number of different areas of your lower body. If anything isn’t functioning properly with your lower half, you may inherently begin to compensate for this discomfort, and that can affect your gait and put excessive strain on your hips, knees, ankles or feet.
Some of the most common issues that can lead to gait irregularities include:
- Lower body injury
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic pain or discomfort in the lower body
- Developed or congenital deformity
Because there are so many systems at play when you’re walking, any of the above issues can affect different parts of your lower body and lead to your gait irregularity. For example, one person may have an irregular walking pattern because of a previous injury to their knee, while another person’s gait irregularity may be tied to hip joint degeneration. You may have a good idea as to what’s causing your gait irregularity if pain is present, but it’s still a good idea to connect with a physical therapist or primary care physician to get an official diagnosis so that treatment can be targeted to the right area.
At OrthoRehab Specialists, we have a variety of tools in our arsenal to help you combat your gait irregularities. We’ll provide in-person assessments and evaluate your gait with our eyes, but we also have biofeedback technology that can read and analyze your walking pattern in real time to really understand the forces at play with each step. This can ensure that we identify and treat the underlying issue instead of the symptoms it’s causing.
Treatment will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but physical therapists oftentimes use a combination of the following techniques to help improve a patient’s walking pattern.
- Strength Training Exercises – Strength training exercises can help to correct muscle weaknesses and imbalances that are contributing to gait issues.
- Range of Motion Exercises – Range of motion exercises address flexibility limitations that are making it impossible to walk with a normal gait.
- Balance Training – Balance training can improve your body’s ability to handle different impact planes so that different surfaces don’t compromise your gait.
- Posture Improvements – We can also make manual corrections to your posture when you’re upright if your posture is throwing off your stride pattern.
No matter the underlying cause, we’re confident that we can help correct your gait issues and adjust your walking pattern so that stress is dispersed normally and certain structures aren’t overburdened during the walking process. For more information, or to talk to a team member about a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.
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