In podiatry, gait analysis is the study of the human motion and the measuring of body movements or body mechanics (biomechanics). Podiatrists study biomechanics of the feet and lower limb so they can provide anatomical assessment of a patient’s gait. This allows them to detect abnormalities related to flat feet or ‘fallen arches’, high arches and ankle, hip and knee problems. Gait analysis is also useful in assessing athlete and identifying posture or movement related problems to minimise injury recurrence and help them run more efficiently. These problems and abnormalities can be corrected through prescription foot orthoses (inserts) or specific exercises to strengthen individual muscles or groups of muscles. Orthoses should be custom made and fitted by a podiatrist.
The injuries that podiatrists commonly treat include:
- Stress fractures of bones
- Shin splints (Medial Tibial stress syndrome)
- Arch pain or plantar fasciitis: often referred to as heel spurs (See heel pain)
- Knee pain and injuries
- Inflammation of the Achilles tendon (Achilles tendinopathy)
- Pain at the base of the big toe (sesamoiditis)