A biomechanical assessment is a thorough examination of your foot and lower limbs to determine how they interact with one another. Let's discuss how an assessment is carried out and how a lower gait assessment can benefit you.
Why would you need a biomechanical assessment?
Aches and pains occur when tissues in the body are overloaded. This can happen in 2 different ways; one big trauma such as kicking a door frame or an ankle sprain or an accumulation of smaller forces such as the repetitive striking of the foot during a long-distance walk.
When an injury occurs from a single accidental trauma working out how the injury occurred is quite straightforward. Injuries that occur due to an accumulation of small forces often appear out of nowhere and have no apparent cause. The aim of a biomechanical assessment is to:
Identify the forces that are causing your body to become overloaded.
Workout ways to reduce those forces.
Devise a treatment plan based on your lifestyle to make your body strong enough to withstand those forces in the future.
What happens at a biomechanical assessment?
A biomechanical assessment comes in several stages; firstly, we will take a look at the history of your foot health.
This is the most vital part of the assessment. This is more than us asking you about your medical history. During this phase, we try to learn as much as possible about your lifestyle, how your injury is affecting your way of life and where you would like to be after treatment. It helps us to determine treatment goals and devise treatment plans that are realistic and fit within your lifestyle.
Secondly, we will perform a non-weight bearing assessment.
At this point, we try to determine which structures in your body are injured and exactly where your foot pain is. It also allows us to test the range of motion in your joints and whether your muscles can control your joints at their end range of motion.
We will then perform a weight-bearing assessment.
Here we look at your skeletal alignment, especially that of your lower limbs and see if it differs from your non-weighted alignment. We will also carry out some simple balance tests and determine how well the mechanical structures in your feet work, e.g. can your big toe be moved whilst standing still and does your foot and leg move in sync?
After the assessments, we will perform strength, movement and balance tests.
These tests help determine your current physical ability or start point that we can build on. They also indicate what type of treatment would be beneficial for you.
During this stage, we may ask you to perform calf raises on a step, balance on one leg or squat as low as you can. This gives us a good indication of how your body moves and how we can intervene to improve your physical ability. Interventions may then be taken to reduce body weight, improve hip and lower limb strength or provide orthoses to go in your shoes.
Why have a biomechanical assessment?
A biomechanical assessment looks at the way forces act upon your body. If you are struggling with persistent injuries that have been caused by overload or too much too soon, you will benefit from a biomechanical assessment.
Biomechanical assessments will also benefit you if you struggle with arthritis in the feet, knees, hips or lower back. Although we cannot resolve arthritis, we can make life more comfortable and improve your ability to carry out everyday jobs and to exercise.
Treatment following a biomechanical assessment
You will receive treatment during your initial assessment. This usually involves exercises designed to benefit your key weaknesses, mobility, strength or coordination. If you are in a lot of discomfort, we may apply padding or strapping to your foot to directly offload or immobilise painful structures. These forms of treatment are usually short-term and designed to reduce pain and promote tissue healing.
Following the initial assessment, we will review your progress 1-2 weeks later. Depending on your progress, we will start a programme of rehabilitation. This is designed to make your injured tissues stronger so they can tolerate more force for a more extended period. As your restoration progresses, the time between review sessions extends. All our exercise programmes are unique to you and your needs; we do not use generic printouts of exercises. We will, however, send you a copy of your home exercise routine with videos of how to carry out the activities and details of sets, reps and how frequently to do them. We also provide email assistance between appointments if you need further guidance or clarification.
Throughout the initial assessment and rehab process, we place a lot of emphasis on client education. This not only helps you understand the process that you are going through but also helps you deal with future injuries yourself.