BIOMECHANICS OF THE GAIT CYCLE
Numerous books and articles have been written on the human gait cycle. Your gait cycle is a rhythmical symphony of movement. It must maintain proper alignment and balance throughout the entire pattern of movement. Maintaining proper alignment and balance allows the body to better absorb or disburse the affects of stress that are produced from the ground up with each step taken. Each leg will have a pattern of movement called the stride. A complete revolution of the stride begins (we will use the right leg) when the right foot makes contact with the ground, leaves the ground and ends when the right foot strikes the ground again.
Each stride has two phases, a swing phase, where the foot is not touching the ground, and the stance or contact phase, when the foot is on the ground. Each of these phases are divided primarily into three additional phases. Some literature breaks these phases down even further, but for our purpose we will deal with just the primary three (3) phases.
The swing phase is made up of follow through or pre-swing, acceleration or swing, and foot decent. Follow through or pre-swing is when the foot starts to leave the ground. Acceleration or swing phase is when the foot swings from a posterior position to an anterior position. The final phase is foot descend where the foot is going down to meet the ground.
The stance or contact phase is made up of the heel strike or pre-load, midstance and toe-off or terminal end point. Heel strike or pre-load is when the foot makes contact with the ground. Midstance is when all the weight bearing forces are placed on one foot. And toe-off or terminal end point is when the foot is preparing to leave the ground.
Today, more than ever, the importance of a proper aligned and balance gait cycle is becoming a big part of injury prevention, as well as, athletic performance improvements.