Gait Cycle

Welcome Back!

Hey everybody!
Welcome back to this week’s discussion on foot facts -what you need to know.

It’s been a while, but I’ll get you up to speed on the 411!

Most of us do it everyday. Babies do it as well as well as adults late into their life. So little thought is put into this process that it can sometimes be taken for granted. It is so important in our lives that without it, one would have to change many aspects. What is this common complex function I’m talking about? The art of walking-the Gait Cycle.

The Gait Cycle

Walking, as simple as it may seem, is actually a very complex process. Unknown to many, it not only involves your two legs-but your upper body as well. The clinical name for the walking is “gait cycle”. The gait cycle can be divided into two phases. You have a swing phase and a stance phase.

Let’s begin with swing phase. Swing phase is basically the leg that is in the air when you are walking. We know that not just one leg stays in the air, but they alternate. The leg is in swing phase only 38% of the time. That’s not very long.

Stance phase is what happens after the swing phase. Stance phase is longest phase making up 62% of the gait cycle. That means more than half of the time, our foot is on the ground. Because it is on the ground for such a long time, we can break the stance phase up into 3 periods; contact, midstance, and propulsive periods.

Contact period is just what it sounds like. Something is making contact. The first thing to make contact is the heel of the foot with the ground. The contact period makes up 27% of the stance phase. The longest period, the midstance period, is 40% of the stance phase. In midstance period, all of the weight of the body is supported by that single leg that is on the ground. AMAZING! How does the foot support all that weight?!! (next weeks article) The last period is propulsion. This is where the majority of the body weight is being placed on the metatarsal heads, or ball of the foot. During propulsion, the last thing to leave the ground is the hallux, or as some may call it-the ‘big toe’. The propulsive period takes up 33% of the stance phase.

Who could have guessed that the gait cycle could be so complex? When someone walks, you are now able to identify the different phases as well as the specific periods of phase.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next week with more FOOT FACTS, your universal portal to the latest FOOT 411!