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How to Check Your Gait at Home

by | Nov 8, 2017

Do you experience constant pain when you run? Do you find that no pair of shoes really seems to fit or feel right? There are, of course, dozens if not hundreds of things that could be contributing to your situation. One of the most common culprits, however, is an abnormal gait, or biomechanically inefficient pronation style.

Now, there’s no substitute for getting a thorough examination and gait analysis from a foot specialist, especially when pain is significant or keeps you from achieving the goals you set for yourself. However, there are a couple of quick-and-dirty ways to check your gait at home.

Check the Wear Patterns on an Old Pair of Running Shoes

Wear patterns on shoes can tell you a lot about which parts of your sole absorb the most pressure when you walk and run. If you have a healthy stride with normal pronation, wear should be relatively even across both the heel and forefoot, with a little extra wear near the ball of the foot by the big toe.

By contrast, overpronators (whose feet rotate too far inward during weight bearing) tend to wear out the inside edge of the shoe excessively. For under-pronators or supinators, it’s the opposite—excessive wear on the outside edge. You may notice other irregularities, too. For example, significant wear on the heels but not the forefoot probably means your heel strike is too hard, and may be over-striding. Thin tread on the one shoe but not the other might mean an uneven gait or even leg length discrepancy.

Do the “Wet Test”

When you check your gait, the wet test is a simple way to get a ballpark estimate of your arch height—too flat, too tall, or just right. Although arch height abnormalities don’t perfectly correlate with gait abnormalities, flat feet tend to be more prone to over-pronation, while high arches are more likely to under-pronate or supinate.

To perform the test, fill a shallow pail with a thin layer of water—just enough to get the bottom of your feet wet, but not soaking or dripping. Stand in the water, then press your foot down on a surface that allows you to get a clear impression of your footprint. Heavy brown construction paper, like the kind used in grocery bags, usually works great for this purpose.

If you have a normal or neutral arch, you should see about half of your normal foot width reflected in the footprint between the heels and the ball of the foot. If you can see almost your entire foot, chances are you have flat feet. If there’s only a thin strip of water along the outside edge—or your heels and toes are totally disconnected—you probably have high arches.

As we said, there’s no substitute for visiting a specialist to check your gait professionally. If the wear or wet tests flagged some possible problems, give us a call to schedule a full gait analysis. Our doctors will get to the full truth about your biomechanics and help you with any treatments, orthotics, or footwear recommendations you need to get you back on the go without pain. Give our Ladera Ranch, CA office a call today at (949) 364-9255.