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NEWS | Jan. 10, 2013

Gait Analysis Clinic helps improve running, prevent injuries

By Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Are you having trouble running? Do you often find yourself getting injured during a run? Do you want to improve your stride? Help is available for those runners who are looking to have these questions answered.

The 628th Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy section runs the Gait Analysis Clinic to help prevent injuries and improve performance. The clinic is held twice a month, the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, at Room 103 in the Health and Wellness Center at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, S.C.

"The clinic is designed to evaluate running patterns," said Maj. Lee Warlick, 628th MDOS Physical Therapy flight commander. "Because we all have different foot types, it's going to cause us to have certain biomechanics when we land."

To utilize this service, TRICARE Prime beneficiaries must set-up an appointment through the 628th Medical Group appointment line.

"This appointment does not require a referral, so you don't have to see your doctor or primary care manager," Warlick added.

How it works

A gait analysis session begins with an appropriately-dressed patient arriving at their appointment with their running shoes.

The physical therapist will then interview the patient.

"We will ask the individuals a series of questions such as 'What is the reason for your visit today?' 'How often do you run?' 'How far do you run?" and 'Do you have pain when you run?'" said Warlick.

After the preliminary steps are taken, the patient will remove his shoes and socks.

"This is my favorite part of the day - seeing feet," Warlick said jokingly.

The physical therapist then analyzes the patient's foot arch.

"There are basically three types of arches - normal, flat/low arch and rigid/high arch," said Warlick. "Generally, a normal to low arch would require a stability shoe, a flat arch would need a motion-controlled shoe and a high arch would need a cushioned shoe."

The patients will then walk and run barefoot on a treadmill. After approximately 30 seconds, the patient will repeat this process in their running shoes, explained Warlick.

After observing the patient walk and run, the physical therapist will offer suggestions to improve the patient's running or walking stride.

"One of the more commons problems I come across from patients is shin splints," said Warlick.

Running shoe prescription will then be discussed with the patients.

Buying shoes

"It is recommended that running shoes be replaced every 400 to 600 miles or no later than six months of use," said Warlick. "All running shoes are different and you need a shoe specifically made for your foot."

Here are some tips to finding the right running shoes:

· Shop in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest (your feet will expand while running)
· Wear the socks you'll wear when you run
· Check for adequate room in the toebox by pressing your thumb into the shoe just above your longest toe. Your thumb should fit between the end of your toe and the top of the shoe
· The heel of your foot should fit snugly against the back of the shoe without sliding up or down as you walk or run
· Have your feet measured. Throughout the years, our feet tend to widen and lengthen.

Currently, the Gait Analysis Clinic is accomplished through keen-eye observation and physical therapist expertise, but the Physical Therapy section will begin to track patient's gait analysis through the Dartfish motion analysis system in the near future, according to Warlick.

"We are in the process of being trained with the Dartfish program," Warlick said. "It should be up and running in two to four weeks," she added.

For more information on the Gait Analysis Clinic or to set up an appointment, call 963-6880.