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What is 3D Gait Analysis?
Running

What is 3D Gait Analysis?

3D gait analysis is about understanding how your body moves.

It is a state-of-the-art technology that accurately describes how you walk and run in three dimensions to give a complete view of your movements and precise biomechanics. By understanding how your body moves, we can improve its efficiency to help you:

  1. Reduce injury
  2. Improve performance 
  3. Guide rehabilitation

Our analysis equipment at Chiswick-Physio gives us the most accurate assessment of human movement available anywhere globally to help deliver better training and treatment outcomes for our clients.

 

Gait Analysis importance in biomechanics and how it differs from 2d gait analysis

Biomechanics is the cornerstone of optimal movement and involves analysing human movement.

Running results from muscular forces acting on the body segments to produce forward motion. When these forces work optimally, they generate an efficient stride with a balanced distribution of loads on the joints. When they don’t, the running injury risk increases.

Meaningful running gait assessment needs to involve the whole body and the forces acting on it. This is precisely what our 3D Running Gait system does. Using depth cameras allows quality motion data to be obtained without body markers, making motion capture more accessible and faster than ever.

3D gait analysis outperforms 2D by capturing movement in three dimensions, providing a comprehensive view of joint motion, angles, and forces during the running cycle. While 2D simplifies the understanding of walking or running, 3D analysis offers a more realistic portrayal, enabling precise quantification of biomechanical parameters. This empowers our team to identify subtle abnormalities, tailor interventions, and enhance performance and injury prevention with greater accuracy and depth.

What’s the process of 3D Gait Analysis?

An overview of the appointment 

Upon making an appointment, we will send you a questionnaire to fill out before you arrive to determine your running experience, what you want out of the assessment, and your history of injuries. 

On arrival, we will take you through a physical exam and evaluation of any pain/injury or performance deficits. 

We will then get you on the treadmill to video your running gait. We will review the results once you complete the 3D analysis. 

We will then retest the analysis, getting you to alter your gait by changing parameters such as knee lift, trunk lean, cadence, arm or head position, landing position, or the shoes you are running in to determine which improves your running economy and decreases load to your body.  

We can then build a custom program to restore pain/injury and improve performance. This service is for both injured and non-injured runners and individuals. 

An overview of the equipment

At Chiswick-Physio, we want to base our work on facts, not assumptions, and we have invested heavily in the top-of-range Sprintex treadmill and Motion Metrix software for 3D gait analysis

The majority of belt-driven treadmills are not suitable for professional gait analysis. They draw the feet beneath the body, unlike Sprintex slat technology, which promotes natural gait with individual slats, avoiding the drawing effect.

MotionMetrix uses depth-sensitive cameras for motion data recording. Unlike traditional cameras, each pixel includes distance information, enabling rapid and precise 3D reconstruction without requiring physical body markers. The system uses near-infrared light patterns for depth perception, making gait analysis quick and straightforward.

Gait Analysis Treadmill
Running Analysis Treadmill

Explanation of data collection

The report structure we provide is straightforward to understand and divided into three main categories:

  1. Running Performance
  2. Gait Characteristics
  3. Joint Loading

Each report page offers detailed insights into a runner’s biomechanics and performance.

The Running Performance Page

This page focuses on mechanical running efficiency and stride parameters. Running Economy is a crucial parameter, determined by how efficiently you store and release elastic energy and the total mechanical work of your motion. To help improve your Running Economy, this page shows individual factors: cadence, trunk forward lean, vertical displacement, overstride, braking force, lateral force, contact time, and foot position on landing. With the data from this page, we can get you to adjust your gait to create less work and more elastic exchange to give you a better running economy. 

The Gait Characteristics page

The gait charecteristics page delves into the lower body kinematics of a runner, highlighting any asymmetries or anomalies that could impact overall performance and running injury risk. It includes detailed analyses of the displacement of the centre of mass (CoM) in various planes, hip flexion/extension, knee flexion, step separation, and knee alignment during single-leg support.

The Joint Loading page

Running exerts significant demands on the lower limbs, with the support phase generating ground reaction forces over three times the body weight. This determines the external forces and moments acting on the joints, mainly focusing on the knee and hip. We can quickly identify potential injury risk areas based on the level of joint loading.

Applications of 3D Gait Analysis

Sports performance enhancement, use in rehabilitation & injury prevention

3D running analysis is a dynamic tool that offers multifaceted benefits in 3 main areas: performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. Let’s delve into its distinct applications and its transformative impact at Chiswick-Physio. 

3D Analysis in Sports Performance:

  • Refines biomechanical techniques for sports-specific movements.
  • Provides real-time feedback for athletes to optimise form during training.
  • Tailors precision training programs for enhanced biomechanical efficiency.
  • Optimises equipment, such as footwear, based on athlete-specific interactions.

3D Analysis in Sports Injuries:

  • Identifies imbalances and asymmetries to inform targeted injury prevention strategies.
  • Establishes biomechanical benchmarks to detect potential injury risk factors.
  • Guides the creation of precise rehabilitation protocols for injured athletes.
  • Assesses readiness for return to play by evaluating biomechanical improvements.

3D Analysis in Rehabilitation:

  • It creates tailored rehabilitation plans based on individual biomechanical needs.
  • Monitors progress during rehabilitation with real-time biomechanical assessments.
  • It facilitates individualised treatment strategies for specific areas of concern.
  • Enables ongoing monitoring to prevent the recurrence of injuries post-rehabilitation.

Furthermore, a key advantage of utilising 3D gait analysis technology lies in the capacity to assess you at the outset of treatment and subsequently reevaluate at any given point along your journey. This continuous monitoring enables us to track your progress, ensuring your desired functional goals are achieved. 

Gait Analysis Studies and Success Stories

Real-life examples where 3d gait has significantly impacted

Example 1

A runner with recurring left knee pain came for a 3D assessment at our clinic. The runner had always used shoes with pronation control due to a pronation analysis done at the retail store. The Joint Loading page showed high stress on the left knee, indicating a risk of overuse injuries. Looking at the Gait Analysis page, we discovered a misalignment called varus and recommended trying neutral shoes. After switching shoes and retesting, the knee load decreased, reducing the risk of potential injury. The example illustrated the insufficiency of pronation analysis and the importance of assessing the loads of the leg above the ankle joint.

Example 2

A runner with occasional hip pain had a high mediolateral hip force when we did a 3D analysis. The Gait Characteristics page showed that the runner had a wide step and leaned forward too much. The steps became normal by practising a slight change in trunk lean, and the hip pain disappeared in three months. This also made running more efficient. So, adjusting the way this runner was leaning forward helped with their pain and made their running more effortless on the body.

Example 3

We did a 3D analysis on a runner with constant lower limb injuries. The Joint Loading page showed a high peak vertical force as the main issue. To reduce joint stress, we advised increasing the number of steps (cadence) they were doing. This helps lower the force on the joints, especially when the force is higher than 2.5 times the runner’s body weight. By adjusting running speed, this particular runner was able to decrease the impact on their joints and avoid their recurring lower limb injuries.

Example 4

A club runner visited a clinic to improve their performance. 3D analysis revealed they had a low Running Efficiency value due to slow pace and big steps. To improve, the runner was advised to take smaller steps, stand taller, relax the knees, and bounce their feet after each step. These suggestions significantly improved the runner’s efficiency, reducing their personal bests.

Example 5

A mid-distance runner with inconsistent training due to injury had an impressive 48% elastic energy return at their race pace of 20 km/h. However, this high return can cause joint loading issues for long-distance runners. To address this, a strength program was set up to improve tolerance to higher loads, and drills were recommended to improve cadence. These strategies helped reduce injury and improve efficiency for longer distances.

Gait Analysis FAQs

What are the two types of gait analysis? 

Two types of gait analysis: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative involves visual observation, while quantitative uses 3D motion capture to measure biomechanical aspects of the gait, like joint angles, forces, and timing. These analyses help assess and treat musculoskeletal issues for better outcomes.

Who is involved in the assessment?

A chartered physiotherapist or biomechanics specialist passionate about keeping you active and improving your performance conducts the gait and running analysis. 

What should I wear?

Wearing tight-fitted clothes, especially on the legs, like running tights or short running shorts, is advised for optimal results. Avoid wide shorts or loose items. For individuals with long hair, please secure it or wear a cap or hair net. 

What should I bring?

Bring both your current and previous running shoes for the analysis. Testing in multiple pairs allows us to assess how different shoes impact elastic recoil and running efficiency, offering valuable insights for optimizing your performance and comfort.

Can a 3D analysis help me prevent injuries?

Yes, a 3D analysis can be instrumental in preventing running injuries. By precisely evaluating your biomechanics and identifying any irregularities or excessive loads on joints, the analysis provides insights to develop targeted strategies. At the time of your assessment, we can get you to alter your running.

How long does the full evaluation take?

During the gait and running analysis, we will examine your running technique and collect extensive data over a period of 60 minutes. If necessary, we may ask you to adjust your gait cycle or try different pairs of shoes to retest the analysis. Our goal is to improve your running efficiency and reduce the forces on your body to prevent injuries. All tests and retests will occur within the 60-minute timeframe. After the analysis, we will provide you with a program to implement which will help make running easier for you.

How long will I run on the treadmill for?

Due to our technology, each test takes 30 seconds to complete. We can do as many retests as possible in the time left after the physical exam has taken place.

Do I need to send in the online questionnaire before I come in for my appointment?

Please make sure to fill out the questionnaire before your appointment and provide us with as much information as possible. Doing so will allow us to spend more time testing and analyzing your treadmill performance to determine the best ways to improve your running economy, and reduce the load and stress on your body. 

How does a 3D assessment differ from an assessment in a running shop?

A 3D assessment differs significantly from a running shop assessment. While a running shop may primarily focus on basic foot mechanics and recommend shoes based on general observations, a 3D assessment employs advanced technology to analyse your entire body biomechanics precisely. It considers factors like joint angles, cadence, stride length, forces, and timing to provide detailed insights for a more comprehensive understanding.

When will I get my results?

We will share the results with you immediately in the form of an MP4 video and a PDF file containing the results pages. The files will be sent to your email and/or saved to disk (for instance, a USB memory stick).

What happens after the analysis?

You will be given homework to do at home involving some strength and conditioning and/or running drills. We recommend that you return in a maximum of 4 weeks for reassessment to compare to your previous running assessment. 

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