The gait cycle- a normal walking pattern

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gait cycle

CONTACT PHASE The first phase of gait. This is where your heel as it goes forward hits the ground. Normal contact of the heel is on the posterior outside of the heel, not the direct back of the heel. So, normal heel wear will occur on the posterior outside of the heel. If your heels wear out directly on the back side of the heel or even the posterior inside of the heel, you do not have a normal gait.

This phase continues until the foot is flat on the ground. This constitutes 20 percent of the total gait cycle.

MIDSTANCE This part of your gait represents 30 percent of the cycle, your body weight passes over your foot as the body comes forward. At this position your foot (in this case the right foot) supports your body weight. This is the part of the gait pattern where an abnormally functioning foot such as an over pronated foot (flat foot) or an over supinated foot (high arch foot) will manifest its problems.

This phase ends as your body weight passes forward eventually forcing your heel to rise.

These two phases which represent one half of the total cycle is the part of the gait pattern where you will experience most heel, arch and midfoot pain.

PROPULSION PHASE This is the last phase of gait where the foot pushes off the ground to propel the body forward. Most forefoot pain results in this phase of the cycle. Fifty percent of the gait cycle is represented in this phase.

Below is a picture of weight distribution pattern seen in normal gait. The heel initially picks up the body weight, the weight then is distributed along the lateral or outside part of the foot. Body weight is then picked up by the ball of the foot and lastly the weight is absorbed by the big toe as you push off with that foot.

bottom of foot gait cycle

It is important to note that any abnormality in walking not only will have an abnormal effect on foot function but since the foot is the foundation of the human body, there can also be problems all the way up to the lower back. That is why correcting abnormalities at the level of the feet can go a long way in relieving pain occurring in the ankles, knees,legs,hips and lower back.

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