Physiotherapy can help you get back on your feet!

Have you noticed that you can’t seem to shake that limp ever since rolling your ankle? Do you notice the more your back bothers you, the worse your gait becomes? There are many reasons why we walk differently, most of which can be resolved with physiotherapy at Zenith Physiotherapy & Wellness in Airdrie, AB!

Gait is defined as the pattern of a person’s walking. The ability to walk is often considered an ordinary function by most people. But when walking becomes limited or dysfunctional, the importance and significance are finally appreciated.

Walking requires intricate coordination of the entire musculoskeletal system and involves precise timing and coordination of muscles, joints, and nerves to allow the body to propel forward rhythmically. Our stride varies from person to person due to height, weight, health status, and even based on the culture we grow up in.

Numerous possibilities may cause an abnormal gait. Some common causes are:

  • Joint degeneration/arthritis
  • Neurological conditions (i.e., Parkinson’s, degenerative nerve diseases, stroke, etc.).
  • Vestibular disorders/vertigo
  • Injuries to the spine and/or lower extremity
  • Muscle disorders (i.e., weakness, muscle wasting associated with age)

Nobody wants to feel pain or unsteadiness when walking. Fortunately, the physiotherapists at Airdrie, AB are experts at identifying and treating the common conditions that affect your gait. We will give you the tools to restore your walking ability and get back to doing what you love!

Make an appointment with our Airdrie, AB office for physiotherapy today. Our gait disorders specialty services at Zenith Physiotherapy & Wellness can help you improve your quality of life!


What is a gait disorder?

Gait abnormalities are irregular motions or other changes in your walking and running patterns. Relatively minor issues like foot problems or wearing ill-fitting shoes can interfere with our normal gait and potentially lead to dysfunction and become a gait disorder.

Gait disorders are very common in the adult population, with studies reporting over 60% of people over the age of 80 to have a gait disorder. Gait disorders include imbalance, shuffling, frequent falls, staggering, and freezing in place.

Neurological or non-neurological causes can influence our gait. The most common causes include:

  • Neurological conditions (i.e., sensory or motor impairments)
  • Orthopedic problems (i.e., osteoarthritis, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and other skeletal deformities)
  • Medical conditions (i.e., heart failure, respiratory insufficiency, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, and obesity)

These abnormalities may worsen as you get older, but changes to your gait can happen at any age. Fortunately, our physiotherapists are experts at identifying the root cause of your struggles and will address all the factors interfering with your ability to walk normally.

What causes gait disorders?

Underlying medical conditions or orthopedic and neurological issues may cause or worsen a problem with your balance or gait. Fortunately, our Airdrie, AB physiotherapy clinic can help you regain your function and correct your gait.

Here are some common conditions that cause gait problems:

Neurological issues

Numerous neurological conditions can cause gait issues. A brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or a stroke are all possibilities. Some neurological disorders start in childhood, whereas others are related to aging.

The most common conditions affecting children include the following:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Charcot Marie Tooth disease
  • Brain tumors

The most common affecting adults include:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal cord compression

At Zenith Physiotherapy & Wellness in Airdrie, AB, our therapists can assess your gait and give you tools and strategies to ensure your safety and restore your function to your maximal potential.

Orthopedic Disorders and Injuries

Osteoarthritis and skeletal deformities/injuries of the lower extremities are the most common reasons for non-neurological gait disorders in adults. A sudden injury, disease, accident, or condition that causes changes to joint range of motion, muscle weakness or avoidance of weight-bearing (aka limping) can disrupt your normal gait and negatively impact your normal functioning.

Orthopedic gait disorders are typically characterized by a limited range of motion, weakness, changes to stride length, cadence, asymmetrical stepping or limping.

Medical Issues

Medical conditions are also associated with changes in gait and an increased risk of injuries related to gait abnormalities. The most common medical conditions include:

  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory insufficiency, including COPD
  • Peripheral arterial occlusive disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Obesity

Our gait is often negatively affected when our cardiovascular and respiratory systems are impaired. Fortunately, our physiotherapists are highly trained in all body systems and how they can impact your gait.

Physiotherapy can help you recover from gait disorders in Airdrie, AB!

Physiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for all gait disorders. Our physiotherapists will conduct a thorough assessment when you arrive for your first appointment at Zenith Physiotherapy & Wellness.

Our physiotherapist will examine your whole body to identify the factoring contributing to your condition—a comprehensive medical history and history of your past and current symptoms. We will include a screen of your joints’ range of motion and strength. We will also conduct movement screenings that include how your body moves in specific patterns, including your gait pattern.

The results of your evaluation will inform your personalized treatment plan. We will tailor our strategy to your specific requirements. Our physiotherapists frequently use the following exercises and techniques:

Mobility work

Targeted stretching in the clinic and at home will assist you in increasing your range of motion in all the joints that may be limiting your natural gait. We will also include whole-body mobility work to improve your movement control, keep your muscles functioning properly, and lower your risk of injury.

Strengthening Exercises

A vital piece of normal gait is strength in the core and lower extremities. Weakness in the hips and pelvis can significantly impact your normal gait pattern and must be addressed sooner than later.

Other muscle weaknesses can impact your stride length and cadence, making you more susceptible to falls and injuries from falling. Our team will identify any areas of weakness and give you specific exercises to address them and restore your functional gait.

Gait Retraining Exercises

Learning proper movement techniques can sometimes correct gait abnormalities, known as retraining. Your therapists will give you specific cues and instructions based on watching your gait.

Drills can range from simple weight shifts for people struggling to bear weight entirely on one leg to advanced cues about foot placement with eyes gazing forward.

In some cases, your therapist may use exaggerated head, arms, trunk, and lower extremities movements to excite the nervous system and recalibrate the systems functioning together. This type of therapy can also help runners’ gait patterns.

Balance and Coordination Drills

The intricate timing of our musculoskeletal system requires balance and coordination working together for a rhythmic stride that we usually use when walking.

Drills can range from basic single-leg balancing to complex ladder drills that require high levels of coordination throughout the entire body and its systems.

Use of Assistive Devices

The safest, most effective gait will sometimes include using an assistive device. The typical way a physiotherapist chooses an assistive device is based on their level of stability.

The typical devices used from most stable to least stable are as follows:

• Walker
• Rolling walker
• Quad cane (i.e., cane with four prongs on the bottom)
• Crutches (i.e., axillary or lofstrand)
• Standard cane
• Hiking Sticks

Your therapist will assess you in the clinic to identify the device you will benefit from and fit you appropriately to ensure your safety. Next, your therapist will practice using the device until you are safe to use it independently.

Call Zenith Physiotherapy & Wellness for help with gait disorders.

Are you having difficulty walking normally? If so, it is very important that you seek help! Our Airdrie, AB physiotherapists can show you the most effective ways to improve your walking abilities, so you can get back to doing what you love sooner than later!

Request an appointment with Airdrie, AB today to find the relief you have been looking for. Please contact us at 403-879-8153.

Your Next Steps…

  1. Request An Appointment

  2. Receive A Custom Treatment Plan

  3. Work Hard and Progress In Your Recovery

  4. Recover & Enjoy Life Pain-Free!