Description of the Normal Gait Cycle
The gait cycle describes the movement of the foot from strike (heel or midfoot in most cases) to midstance to toe off for runners and walkers. Heel strike is the initial point of contact for most runners and all walkers. It is the point of highest impact, generating a force three to six times greater than a person's bodyweight.* Midstance is where stability becomes critical. Ideal biomechanics place the foot in a stable (neutral) position at midstance. This provides a stable platform as the foot begins to propel itself forward (toe off). Toe Off is the propulsion phase where force is shifted from midfoot to forefoot. Like midstance, it is ideal for the foot to be in a stable, neutral position at toe off. Instability at either Midstance or Toe Off is not only inefficient, but can also lead to injury, as the body may overcompensate for the lack of stability.
*More and more runners are categorized as mid-foot strikers. Proper mid-foot strike is best described as the runner’s entire foot making contact with the ground at impact. There are also forefoot strikers, landing on the ball of the foot or toes.