Recognize this one? Gait evaulation of a skunk. Pepe Le Pew. We did this post a year ago. Has it been a year already ? This one is worth looking at again.

The Foot Slap Gait Style:  

This is a funny little video that shows a few important points.

Our purpose here is to help train your eyes to the important things.  There are multiple clues in every gait compensation.  There is head movement (which we will discuss in this case), there is arm swing (is it equal and symmetrical), torso rotation, hip lateral sway in the frontal plane, violations of sagittal knee progression, and then the always difficult multiplanar foot and ankle motions as well as so many other parameters we consider.  So, when one component goes wrong, with enough experience and skill, one can make predictions as to what is wrong.  And, the more flaws (correlative compensations) that are noted, the higher the predictive value of the assumption.  After decades of doing gait analysis, as with anything, a skill is developed and an art in doing it begins to take shape, as we will see here (without stop frame, without foot mapping devices etc).  One begins to form a mental algorithm to the process.  We always start with, “is the head silent in the vertical, frontal and sagital plane?”.  When a person’s gait is off, the head is almost never silent in space.  And arm swing also begins an assymetrical pendulum effect.  This could be called an energy conservation mode (as talked about in the article on the blog entitled, Dynamic Arm Swing in Human Walking, ( where it was determined that normal arm swinging required minimal shoulder torque, while volitionally holding the arms still required 12% more metabolic energy. Among measures of gait mechanics, vertical ground reaction moment was most affected by arm swinging and increased by 63% without it.

  So, as  you do this more and more you will develop the skills of observation to improve the art form of assessing one’s gait.  But remember this KEY POINT *** what you see is mere information gathering, it is not always and frequently ever, the problem that you see.  You are seeing their compensation pattern around some neurologic, orthopedic or biomechanical problems…..things that are making a silent pristine gait impossible.  You MUST then, take this information and correlate it to your clinical findings in terms of neuro-orthopedic-biomechanical limitations during your exam.  Things like, joint range limitations, muscle weakness, instabilities and the like….things that you cannot accurately detect just watching or video taping a person’s gait. So, you are trying to take what you see, and what you find, and develop a logical algorithm as to where their problem lies and one that tells a solitary lesion logical mechanical story as to the gait pattern you are seeing.

OK, soap box aside………

lets build on that skill set we are trying to develop, the powers of observation and what they COULD mean.


The first thing we see is, the Sagittal head bob.…..each step there is a propulsive head anterior oscillation and then dropping downwards at the end. This can mean there is an apropulsive problem in midstance such as loss of ankle rocker but that is not so in this case, the ankle rocker is great.  The head drop in this case coincides with successive heel strikes each time.  This in essence means that they are dropping from a height each time.  How can this be ? The little fella is on flat ground ! (more on this in a minute).  This could mean a lack of core maintenance in the late midstance phase of gait (heel rise-toe off) and subsequent movement onto the next heel strike.  This can come from overstriding, as in this case, but it can also come from an aggressive forward lean in a person’s gait style (like walking into a strong head wind).  In this case, we have a more reasonable ASSUMPTION, it comes back to the “falling from a height issue”. In this case, lack of adequate anterior compartment lower limb strength (tibialis anterior and the long and short toe extensors, EDL, EDB, EHL, EHB) allows PEPE to move from heel strike to foot flat in an uncontrolled and abrupt fashion.  When this occurs, pronation (even the normal amount of pronation) occurs fast.  And we know that when a person moves from supination to pronation there is a drop in height of the arch and thus a drop in the body (try this to prove the point, …..stand up straight, look in a mirror and begin raising up your toes and then dropping them.  If you do it right, each rise of the toes should raise the arch (The Windlass Effect), and each fall should drop the arch demonstrated in the mirror by a rise and fall of the head vertically.)  And so here you have the height differential in this case.  So, in a nutshell, PEPE is over-striding (as evidenced by his also aggressive arm swing), and falling hard from  heel strike abruptly into foot flat, a double whammy !  There is basically zero eccentric phase activity of the lower anterior compartment musculature and so the foot accelerated to the ground from its starting peak height at heel strike.  The poor fella probably has a raging anterior shin splint condition because of this but you would be hard to tell from the smile on the little stinkers face.  …………but remember, prove your facts on the table……who knows, maybe he has posterior column spinal cord disease, but an examination will have to be done to confirm your findings and suspicions.  In this case, we highly recommend an upwind exam table and plenty of air fresheners. 

we remain,…  The Gait Guys