Photo: Where is your knee joint hinge point ? Say that 4 times fast.
Here is a photo of 4 elite runners. We suspect it is an 800m race because #100 is Ahmed Bile who is the son of Olympian and world champion Abdi Bile.
In this photo you can see that Ahmed #100 has a significantly large foot progression angle (large foot turn out) and this likely represents external tibial torsion or femoral antetorsion while #454 has a neutral foot turn out as does #232. #46 has a modest foot progression angle. Grossly, #46 also has the patella right over the foot and so tibial torsion is not likely. Now, move up to observe their knee progression. All of them have a forward (sagittally) oriented knee progression. How can that be? Well, it is simple if you know your torsional issues. After all, the knee is a hinge and if you are running forward your knee pretty much should hinge forward as well. Now, there is much room for conversation here and debate but we are just trying to make and observation and a point. To a large extent the knee rules the roost in the lower limb in terms of sagittal progression because it is the joint with the least number of tolerances. The knee only hinges in flexion and extension where as the hip and ankle/foot have frontal and axial planes they can notably tap into when the sagittal is challenged. Again, look at #100 and our point is made.
Look at the 2 fellas in the middle (454 and 232). they have a internally (medially) postured knee/thigh yet their foot progression angle is mostly neutral and the knees are hinging forward. Does #454 have internal tibial torsion? It could be (hint, look at his right trailing leg, specifically the patella and foot postures) but the left limb looks cleaner although adducted suggesting he might like the cross-over gait or it is more external tibial torsioned. Where as the 2 outer fellas, 100 and 46, are more neutrally oriented knees/thighs (one could make the case that #100 has a more externally oriented femur) yet increased progression foot progression angle in an environment of a forward hinging knee.
So what gives ? Torsions. Yes, we are soapboxing on torsions again. Torsions in the tibia, torsions in the femur. Versions are normal expressed angles, tibial torsions are abnormal.
Now, as life would have it, look over the right shoulder of #100. See the fella in the red headband? Ya, that guy losing. He has the cleanest lines of the bunch. How is that for cruel irony ? Sometimes it ain’t what you got, it is what you do with what you got. Unless of course he is actually wincing in pain and trailing behind because he got spiked by #100 and that hideously frontal plane splayed foot !
Lastly, this wouldn’t be an official Gait Guys post if we did not preach to remember that “what you see is not the problem, what you see in a gait analysis is the person’s compensatory strategy around their deficits”. And here we see deficits. Our observations today are merely just that, observations. Now someone has to get them on a table and examine them and confirm our observations, prove them wrong and/or discover the joint, muscular and motor pattern deficits that created these observations. Or, someone has to confirm that all parts are working and that they were at the end of the line when the straight long bones were first handed out.
Today’s Lesson: Get in line, and get in line early. (just kidding of course)
The Gait Guys. Calling it they way we see it, but reserving the right to plead the 5th or change our minds after an examination. We would suggest to everyone, when it counts and when your reputation is on the line, plead the 5th, until you have completed your hands on clinical examination. ”Seeing may be believing” but that still doesn’t always make it so.
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*Photo courtesy of BIG EAST Conference