D is for the Determinants of Gait

December 3, 2012

The determinants of gait are the strategies that we use when walking to maintain the center of gravity that is in the horizontal plane, and to increase the efficiency of gait, and to decrease the energy expenditure when walking and running

The determinants of gait are a set of factors or characteristics that influence the way a person walks or moves. These determinants help in maintaining stability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the gait cycle. The following are the commonly recognized determinants of gait:

  1. Pelvic Rotation: The rotation of the pelvis plays a crucial role in gait. As a person walks, the pelvis rotates forward on one side while rotating backward on the other side. This motion helps in maintaining balance and shifting the body’s center of gravity.
  2. Pelvic Tilt: Pelvic tilt refers to the upward or downward movement of the pelvis during gait. It helps in coordinating movements of the lower back and hip joints, facilitating leg swing and forward propulsion.
  3. Hip Motion: Proper hip motion is necessary for an efficient gait pattern. It involves flexion (bending) of the hip during the swing phase and extension (straightening) during the stance phase of gait.
  4. Knee Motion: The movement of the knee joint affects the leg’s swing and stability during walking. The knee should flex (bend) during the swing phase and extend (straighten) during the stance phase to support weight-bearing.
  5. Ankle Motion: Ankle motion includes dorsiflexion (upward movement) during the swing phase, which helps in clearing the foot, and plantarflexion (downward movement) during the stance phase, which aids in propulsion.
  6. Foot Clearance: Foot clearance refers to the ability to lift the foot off the ground during the swing phase without striking the ground or objects. Sufficient foot clearance is important for preventing tripping or stumbling.
  7. Step Length: Step length is the distance between the heel strike of one foot and the subsequent heel strike of the other foot. It indicates the distance covered with each step and can vary based on factors like speed, stride length, and individual characteristics.
  8. Cadence: Cadence refers to the number of steps taken per minute. It is influenced by factors such as walking speed, age, and fitness level. Cadence is an important determinant of gait efficiency.
  9. Arm Swing: Arm swing helps in maintaining balance, stability, and counterbalancing movements of the lower limbs during walking. It is coordinated with the opposite leg’s swing phase.

These determinants of gait work together to produce a smooth, coordinated, and efficient walking pattern. Various factors, including age, physical condition, injuries, and neurological conditions, can affect these determinants and lead to altered gait patterns or abnormalities.


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