Biomechanical Assessments – What it is and when you may benefit from one

A biomechanical assessment is the analysis of your body’s movements when standing and walking.

The assessment examines how joints of the body are positioned and move, how the many muscles of the body are working (strong or weak), and how one imbalance in the body may affect the position and function of another.

If we are weak in specific areas our body struggles to cope with the constants stress we place on it in our everyday lives. Add to that running or walking, thereby increasing the stress, our bodies simply cannot cope and the result will be injury/pain.

This is why we need to assess not just the foot but all the joints in the kinetic chain (engineering concept to describe human movement, from the hip to the foot).

An infographic about biomechanical assessmentThe Assessment

Following a thorough medical history we will chat about your injury, when it occured, what started it, how you deal with it, what activities you undertake, what shoes you wear and where you want to be in the next few months. Ascertaining a detailed history is paramount to understanding and diagnosing your current issues.

We will look at the foot, knee and hip in detail to create a clear picture of the entire kinetic chain. It is a bit like chicken and the egg – what is causing what – foot imbalance may cause knee and hip issues or the otherway round. We need to look at the bigger picture.

The Non-Weight Bearing Assessment

Here we look at your joints quality and range of motion within the foot, ankle, knee and hips. This is initially assessed with you in the chair.

Weight Bearing Assessment

This is where the harder work starts for you. We ask you to stand and carry out a series of exercises including touching your toes, standing on one leg, squating and hopping where necessary.

Your gait (walking) will be assessed by viewing (trained eye) by your Podiatrist. Using a longer section of the room we ask you to walk back and forth at your pace so we can observe you from front and side views.

Muscle Strength Tests

Back sitting/lying in the patient chair here we observe and assess your muscle strength throughout your hips, upper leg and lower leg and of course the foot.

Computerised Pressure Plate

We will in some instances utliise a pressure plate (as the photo shows at the top). This is a great tool for you to see visually the pressures that are transferring through your foot with every step you take. Areas of high pressure may be areas where you have pain, callus/corns. This piece of equipment is very helpful but must be used alongside an experienced podiatrists assessment to comprehend why you’re getting higher pressure in some areas to others.

A screen showing biomechanical assessment results

Highest pressure areas are indicated by the red areas. I will talk you through its interpretation and results. All can be printed and sent to you. Great visual tool.

When Is A Biomechanial Assessment Needed?

Any pain which develops in the lower limb, knees or feet will benefit from a biomechanical assessment. Some examples would be (but not exclusive): bunions, plantar fasciitis/heel pain, forefoot pain, shin splints, achilles injuries, knee injuries, buttock pain. All these injuries and pain may be a result of a mechanical issue in the lower limb.

Treatment Plans

After the assessment your Podiatrist will develop a treatment plan with you. This may include the use of an exercise programme, which aims to restore muscle balance to a joint and reduced the stress on specific muscles/ligaments. Orthotics/insoles may be utilised for a temporary measure to help offload your stressed joint/ligament. In some instances this may be used long term too.

We come up with a plan together and decide on what your goal is for example return to; running, playing bowls, walking the dog or getting to the shops.

Additionally for those who are wishing to increase their activity levels it may be useful to have an assessment to check for imbalances. Working on the weaker areas may reduce your chance of developing an injury – now that’s smart thinking. Prevention can be better than cure.

To book a biomechanical assessment call 07549 559056