The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Do I Have An Abnormal Gait?

Posted by on Friday, May 31st, 2013


Having an abnormal gait could be the cause of your chronic back pain, reports CBS News. Many people go through physical therapy and even spinal manipulation from a chiropractor before discovering that an abnormality in walking pattern was the culprit all along. The newspaper cites a February 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association that found corrective shoe inserts to be an effective way to treat abnormal gait and low back pain. After being fitted for custom shoe inserts to correct their imbalanced gait, 84 percent of the test subjects experienced improvement. More than a year later, the follow-up found that pain relief lasted more than twice as long as with previous treatments.

Do I Have An Abnormal Gait?

There are several types of common walking abnormalities have their own names:

  • Propulsive gait — a stooped, stiff posture with the head and neck bent forward
  • Scissors gait — a crouched posture with the knees and thighs crossing in a scissor-like movement
  • Spastic gait — a stiff, foot-dragging walk caused by a lopsided muscle contraction
  • Steppage gait — a gait where the toes scrape the ground, causing a person to lift the leg higher than usual
  • Waddling gait — a duck-like walk, shifting from side to side
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Sometimes abnormal gaits occur as a result of aging, injury or disease. Multiple sclerosis, alcohol poisoning, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, brain abscess, cerebral palsy, carbon monoxide poisoning, polio, stroke, and hip dysplasia are all conditions that may cause a person to walk abnormally. Other times, people are just born with a physiological structure that leads them to walk a certain way.

The Importance of Gait Analysis in the Elderly

A report by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA revealed that nursing home patients who fell frequently had “significantly slower gait speed and shorter stride-length” than did people who did not fall. Several studies have shown that gait analysis can be predictive of cognitive and memory decline.

Why Get A Gait Analysis?

There are many reasons to get a gait analysis done. Some runners want to look for ways to improve their stride to run faster or prevent injury. Some older people are looking for ways to avoid falls. Parents may want a gait analysis done on their children to ensure normal development. Gait analysis is a staple of rehabilitation treatment and early intervention treatment for disease progression too. Then there are some people who simply want to know whether they should be a special type of shoe to address a high or low arch, or other abnormality, so they can live pain-free for years to come.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.