The speed of walking that maximally reduces gait asymmetry
The body has an innate ability to heal and correct itself. This same “normalizing” ability is seen in the world of biomechanics. By using an OptoGait 1 meter system, you can measure your body’s ability to correct its gait asymmetries. OptoGait systems precisely measure all parameters of the gait cycle with left and right differentials noted. By varying the speeds, you can define which speed produces the most effective biomechanical walk. (Please note that asymmetry can still exist.)
To perform gait rhythm test:
- Place client on treadmill
- Walk slowly, noting asymmetries of stance and flight
- Gradually raise speed, noting decrease in asymmetry
- Note speed where asymmetries again increase
- Gait rhythm = the speed of minimal asymmetry
This is the speed with which all interventions should be compared. If a person is 10% asymmetric at 1.5 mph, 6% at 2.5 mph, and 9% at 3.5 mph, we need to decide how effective our training/rehabilitation programs are in improving the 6% differential. If our body can get us to this 6% differential on its own, effective training/treatment should be able to improve upon it.
Don’t just walk – therapeutically walk. Now that we have a technique for finding optimal gait speed, how can it be used most effectively? By using a simple heart rate monitor, we can record the heart rate at which optimal speed is found. When the client walks, he/she can control his/her pace by staying close to the given HR number. This is not meant to be a high-end exercise; this is therapeutically walking (good for overall health and recovery following a vigorous workout). As the client goes through effective training/treatment, his/her gait rhythm should increase with reduced asymmetries noted.
We define an intervention as any exercise or treatment that is designed to change the parameters of the gait cycle (orthotics, progressive stretch, etc.). With orthotics, balancing the foot to balance the body is the goal. Test your client walking barefoot at his/her gait rhythm. Note all asymmetries of the gait cycle. Let your client walk at the same speed using his/her orthotic. Note changes in asymmetries to determine the effectiveness of the orthotic intervention. All treatment/trainings can be judged for effectiveness by evaluating asymmetrical gait changes over time.