Everyone is different, even down to the way we walk, run, swim, and stand. Children are born with differing foot structures and sometimes these can cause gait abnormalities. This means the biomechanics of their feet—the way in which they strike the ground during movement— may be different than what is considered “normal”. A gait analysis can ensure your child is developing correctly, determine if there is a problem that needs to be treated, and ease any concerns you may have.

Differences in Gait

  • In-toeing: This occurs when the feet curve in toward each other, a condition often referred to as “pigeon-toed”. One possible culprit is the child’s position in the womb causing a twisting of the hips and curvature of the feet. Typically, this corrects itself without any treatment at all.
  • Out-toeing: Similar to in-toeing, but the feet curve outward instead. This can sometimes be a symptom of a neuromuscular disorder so it is important to have an examination done.
  • Flatfeet: This is completely normal in children 2-3 years of age. The arches will not usually develop until after that, but if even if they don’t, it’s still nothing to worry about unless your child is complaining of pain.
  • Toe-walking: This is normal to a point. If your child is walking on his or her toes after age 3 however, it could be because of tight muscles, a neuromuscular disorder, or hip dysplasia. It’s best to make an appointment to rule out any problems that may need treatment.

How a Gait Analysis is Done

When your child is examined a number of tests will be performed. Your child will be asked to walk in different ways (on his or her toes and heels, in a circle, and in a straight line). He or she will be asked to hop on each foot, bend at the knees, and get up out of a chair and walk again. All of these “tests” will give Dr. Mitchell Wachtel an idea of your child’s musculoskeletal makeup and how everything functions together. There will also be a neurological assessment portion of the examination to rule out any possible disorders (usually determined at around age 5). If none are found, your child will most likely grow out of any gait abnormality with no lasting damage. We will discuss physical therapy and other conservative measures to help the process along.

Again as a Grown Up

Sometimes our feet change with age and issues may arise in certain people over time. It’s a good idea, then, to have a gait analysis as an adult as well, to determine if you are at an increased risk of sustaining an injury while running or walking. This allows us to address problems, which can often be addressed simply by changing footwear or using an orthotic device inside your shoes.

Help for Your Whole Family

Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, knows how important your family is to you. Learn more about your children’s biomechanics to help them stay active and pain-free. Call us today at (978) 794-8406 to schedule a gait analysis in one of our three conveniently located Massachusetts offices: North Andover, Lowell, and Haverhill.