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Gait Training: Physical Therapy Treatments and Benefits

what is gait training therapy

Had recent surgery or lower extremity injury? Chances are you’re having some trouble walking normally.

Physical therapists call this mode of walking your ‘gait’.

If your gait is off, there are several important reasons you may want to consider physical therapy for gait training.

Table of Contents

What Is Gait Training in Physical Therapy?

Gait training is necessary to perform when someone is walking improperly.

Gait training involves practicing sets of exercises that strengthen your muscles and increase your range of motion.

Ultimately, the purpose of gait training is to improve the way you walk.

different types of gait training

When Might Gait Training Physical Therapy Treatments Be Necessary?

There are several reasons why you may need gait training physical therapy. Your doctor might suggest this kind of treatment if you’ve recently suffered an injury or undergone surgery.

Gait training may be necessary if you:

  • Experience pain while walking
  • Suffered an injury to a lower extremity
  • Have a deformity injury
  • Recently had surgery on a foot or leg
  • Experience limitations to your daily activities

If you aren’t sure if gait training physical therapy is right for you, consult your doctor or primary care physician.

If you’re experiencing pain that is not related to your gait, the physical therapists at In Motion O.C. may be able to provide you with some relief. For more information on the ailments we can help you overcome, click here.

Can Gait Be Corrected?

Since gait issues have to do with the mechanics of walking, they can normally be fixed with the right treatment program and a knowledgeable physical therapist.

Gait issues can heavily impact your daily activities and overall quality of life.

A knowledgeable physical therapist will be able to observe and identify problems related to your gait.

From there, your physical therapist will assess your individual needs and develop a treatment plan designed to yield real results. Are you looking to correct your gait? Our physical therapists at In Motion O.C. can help!

Unsure if physical therapy could work for you? We made this guide to help you learn about how physical therapy could benefit you and help you regain some freedom!

gait training physical therapy

How Does a Physical Therapist Identify Issues With Gait and Decide How to Best Address Them?

Some gait issues can be obvious to spot. If you walked in with a limp because you’re recovering from foot surgery, for example, designing a treatment plan would be a breeze.

However, some gait issues require the keen observational skills of a knowledgeable physical therapist.

Common gait-related issues a physical therapist might look for:

  • Knee not bending correctly
  • Hip muscles aren’t being properly utilized
  • Poor ankle motion range
  • Post-injury or post-surgery symptoms

Multiple aspects of your gait will need to be assessed to determine where the limitation is and what might be causing it. Finding a therapist able to spot subtle abnormalities in your gait is paramount to resolving gait-related pain.

3 Different Types of Gait Training Treatments in Physical Therapy

The treatment you receive depends on the specific gait abnormalities you exhibit.

Some common kinds of gait abnormalities include:

  • Antalgic gait (pain-related)
  • Spastic gait
  • High-steppage gait pattern
  • Trendelenburg gait

Though injuries and surgeries are common causes of these gaits, abnormalities in your gait can develop for other reasons.

Ultimately, gait issues may stem from weakness or tightness in the legs that prevent a normal walking pattern.

Fortunately, there are proven techniques physical therapists can use to alleviate these issues and correct your gait.

Range of Motion Exercises

After sustaining an injury to a lower extremity, you will likely need to work on regaining the range of motion in your joints. Often the swelling and muscle tightness that naturally occurs after a surgery inhibits your range of motion.

Range of motion exercises are common treatments for the hip, trunk, and knees but can be performed on other areas as well.

Typical range of motion exercises can include:

  • Calf stretching
  • Hip and trunk rotations
  • Heel slides 
  • Ankle pumps

Depending on your current condition and specific gait issues, your range of motion could be significantly improved in as little as six sessions over three weeks.

Be sure to check in with your physical therapist or doctor before beginning any exercise programs. For lasting results, it is essential that exercises are done safely and executed properly

physical therapy gait training equipment

Strengthening Exercises

It is common for gait issues to stem from weaknesses in various muscles and joints.

To strengthen those areas, physical therapists will include strengthening exercise in a gait training physical therapy treatment plan.

Strength-training exercise programs are clinically proven to improve one’s gait.

Exercises designed to strengthen lower extremities include:

  • Leg raises
  • Squats and quad sets
  • Resistance training
  • Step-ups

These exercises are effective if done correctly. You don’t want to overdo it and cause further injury or pain. A licensed physical therapist should guide you through these exercises.

Reach out to an In Motion O.C. therapist today. We’re here to help!

gait training physical therapy

Walking and Stepping Exercises

Gait issues have everything to do with walking mechanics. One way to improve these walking mechanics is to practice the motions of walking in an exaggerated or accentuated way.

For example, patients working to improve their gait will often perform:

  • Obstacle gait training
  • Side-Step gait training
  • Target stepping exercises
  • Retro walking

Each of these types of walking exercises helps ‘reset’ the way you walk to improve your gait.

what is gait training therapy

3 Benefits of Gait Training Physical Therapy Treatments

You may be wondering, is physical therapy worth it?

Since walking is such a large part of your life, correcting your gait can make a significant positive impact. While there are several benefits to investing in gait training physical therapy, we want to highlight a few below.

#1: Gait Normalization

When there are issues with your gait, the rest of your body compensates for the abnormality. When this happens, pockets of pain sometimes begin to appear in other areas of the body.

As the gait begins to normalize, these pain points will be alleviated or will disappear altogether.

#2: Relief of Compensatory Injuries

We mentioned previously that the body will compensate for abnormalities in your gait. As a result, your body is more at risk for compensatory injuries.

Treating your gait reduces the risk of other injuries and provides relief for ones that may have already occurred.

#3: Reduction of Unnecessary Energy Use

With an abnormal gait, your body expends more energy than it should doing simple tasks like walking down the street or up the stairs.

If you struggle with these kinds of activities, you should consult your doctor or physical therapist to see if more freedom with the way you move is possible!

The Physical Therapists at In Motion O.C. Can Help Improve Your Gait With Gait Training

Are you tired of struggling with your gait?

We’re here to provide you with gait training physical therapy.

In Motion O.C. has great licensed physical therapists that are ready to work with you and design a treatment plan to provide you with more freedom in your motion.

Reach out today to schedule your free consultation!

gait training physical therapy

In Motion O.C.