The word gait simply refers to one's style of walking. We walk differently because of different things that influence us. These might include mood, pathology(disease), social and environmental factors.

Normal gait is efficient as well as protective to the body from injury.


With even a small injury, gait(walking) pattern can be altered greatly. Pain, weakness, and stiffness can all lead to the development of abnormal gait patterns. Eve mood change can be a great contributor to altered gait.

A happy mood will lead to a bouncing gait while a depressed mood will lead to heavy steps. Apart from mood changes and other factors mentioned above, gait pattern can also be changed following sensory function disturbances, balance and flexibility issues.

Abnormal gait will lead to different functional outcomes. Usually problems with gait will lead to decline in function in the eldery. Gait abnormalities in the eldery might lead to instability and falls.

Gait Analysis

Gait analysis refers to examination of movement. It can be done in different ways but an experienced physiotherapist will be able to analyze it via observation. Other means of detecting gait include video gait analysis which can slow down the walking action for both assessment and correction purposes. Others use force plate computer analysis.

With injury or illness, your gait can greatly deviate from the normal. For instance:

  • Failure of the hip, knee and ankle to bend and this may lead to swinging the leg round to swing through and cause hip pain
  • You may dip down at the hip during stance phase, which can lead to hip bursitis or back pain.
  • If you've have had a stroke or neurological disorder, you may not be able to support the weight fully enough to step with the other leg, which could cause a fall and potential fracture.
  • You may be unable to pull up your toes (foot drop), which could lead to a trip or an inability to place your heel on the ground.
  • You may lean too far forward and potentially trip or stumble.
  • You push your walking aide (eg stick or frame) too far forward for an inefficient gait
  • You walk with your weight too far back on your heels, which could cause you to fall backwards
  • You could have poor balance, that some simple balance exercise could quickly improve to reduce your chance of a fall.
  • You may walk with one hand on furniture or a wall, which could lead to a fall!

Your physiotherapist is an expert in movement and if you have walking or running problems, consult a physiotherapist.

Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy
Chimwemwe Masina, PT

Author: Chimwemwe Masina

Chimwemwe Masina is currently working as a Resident Physiotherapist at DDT College of Medicine in Gaborone, Botswana. Before joining DDT College of Medicine, he worked in the Ministry of Health at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi, MagWaz Physiotherapy and Wellness Services in Lilongwe, Malawi. as well as Volunteering at Physiopedia.
His interest is in Neuromusculoskeletal Physiotherapy and currently he is an assisting lecturer in Manual Therapy and Lumbar Spine Management.

Disclaimer! Information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not meant for specific medical intervention. If you have a medical problem, please contact us or consult a certified medical professional