What is your gait filter ? This blog post may be the most important one we have ever written.

Are you a biomechanist ? A high school or college coach ? A physical therapist ? Chiropractor ? Self-proclaimed running guru ? Running shoe store shoe fitter ? Researcher ?

We all are going to approach gait and gait analysis through our biased filter. There is no way you can avoid it. And the more diverse your background, the deeper your education levels and the deeper your experience level in practicing your trade the better your filter will be.  But in many ways this article is more than just about your gait analysis filter, it is about your life filters, your outlook and opinions that have shaped your life.

Are you assessing your client’s gait ? Maybe you think you are. Maybe you are doing a great job and are seeing things that are truly there, and maybe you are making them up.  Is your filter clogged ? And, if you are doing gait analysis and your gait knowledge is thin, then you are also limiting and possibly biasing the information of one of the most deeply repetitive and engrained motor and movement patterns that a human will do on a daily basis. If you are not looking for honest gait pathomechanics, and if you are giving exercises to your client without cleaning up those pathomechanics (*not what you see but what has caused what you see) you are further driving your clients neurologic faulty motor patterns deeper into a rut.  This can lead to injury locally and possibly globally.

Just remember, in gait analysis and in life, if you disagree with someone it is likely because of the detail and depth of the filter you or they are observing things through.  Once your education stops, formal or experiential, your filter will no longer change and life and gait will be judged based on that stagnant filter (and we all know a “rigid in their ways” parent or grandparent who is stuck in their ways).  And, when it comes to progress or lack there of,  so does the potential benefit to every client you help from this day forward. Keep refining that filter, keep making it deeper and more pristine. Keep cleaning it out regularly and look for ways to improve upon it.  The more you know the better your filter, the better you will filter out the assumed, the lies and the fake outs from the truth.  

Ivo and I have have filters too. And when it comes to gait, our individual filters force us to see other sides but these filters we each bring to the table create conflicts at times.  We do not always see a case the same way and sometimes we argue from one side of the fence, until we realize to put on the other guys filtered glasses. Ivo has a strong neurological, rehab, acupuncture/Eastern medicine filter. These are weak filters for me and I will always default to him on these issues. Likewise, I have an
orthopedic, sports med, muscle activation filter and they too can be a blessing and curse. But when we come together and layer our filters we get a clearer extract from what is being pressed through our filters. And, when we play nicely with each other, putting our two brains together and let a case filter down through the filters of neurology, orthopedics, acupuncture, rehab, sports medicine, movement pattern systems, muscle activation/inhibition techniques and the like we often get a pure and honest extract at the other end. Our filters help us remove the biases in a case that inexperience or a lack of expertise or knowledge on a particular disorder will cloud.

There is much to this filter theory. As we eluded to earlier, filters dictate how we see the world. Whether it be gait analysis or how we raise our kids filters affect how we see our world and the actions we take based on that filtered information.  Gait analysis is no different than anything else in our lives. When it comes to rearing children for example we often act subconsciously and reactively on many of the filters handed to us by our parents, from our life experiences, from our religous views, political views and many others. These actions and reactions do not mean your filter is always right either. Learning about another side or perspective through some else’s filter can help clear or solidify yours. Gait analysis is no different and it is subject to the biases passed down to you from all that you have learned or experienced.

Are you keeping your clinical and gait filters pure and unbiased? We question this all the time about our work to keep us honest. If all someone does is look at something through the same filter you can get lost at seeing the world only through that filter. Be careful if all you do is go to the same seminars and follow the same people around because they are the top chef guru right now. Every theory has holes and limits, just ask Einstein. It’s when we try to press a square peg into a round hole based on “the guru or theory of the moment” perspective that we get ourselves into the problems of a clogged filter. We have all done it, yes all of us. We get stuck in our ways as well. We are creatures of habit. We have all been to a great seminar only to return the next Monday into our routines of old slowly drifting back to ways of old in a few weeks. It’s easy to settle back in to a narrow clogged filter because change asks something more of us. It’s easier to slide down that hill of comfort and familiarity, but it asks something more and something bigger of us when we have to trudge up that steep hill that is cursed with questions, unfamiliarity and discomfort. But, that’s where the gold is found. 

So, what are your filters ? Are there enough of them and are they deep enough ? Are they based on good guided and mentored experience or are they based on your self-taught and thus biased experiences ? Our filters here at The Gait Guys have a combined 24+ years of formal medical and medical-related education and 40+ years of clinical experience (and more importantly, failure) with patients. We think our filters run pretty deep but they admittedly have holes that have been stitched with experience and humility, and they likely still have unseen gaping holes and leaks that we struggle to find to this day. But we try to show up everyday in our clinics and here on The Gait Guys blog with an honesty and humbleness in an attempt to learn that which we don’t know and to honestly face that which we think we know, but actually don’t, because our filters are also subject to clogging.

And finally remember one of our biggest catch phrases. “What you see in someone’s gait is not their problem, but rather their strategic compensation around the problem”. 

Don’t make it worse but trying to filter what you see through a clogged or shallow filter. 

And if you do not mind us finishing with a broader brush, it is more than just about GAIT filters, rather it is about every filter through which we approach life and the people in our lives. Whether it be politics, religion, the media, research, guns, war, abortion, gay rights, marriage, our spouses, child rearing and the like, if we just step back from every opinion we have and become aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions and realize that they are a product of the filters we apply, maybe, just maybe … . . the world will be a better place in that moment. (And if Ivo and I can dream big, maybe a world where everyone walks and runs without pathologic compensations.)

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys.  Getting a little armchair philosophical on you today.

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