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What is abnormal gait?

What is abnormal gait?

Abnormal gait or a walking abnormality is when a person is unable to walk in the usual way. This may be due to injuries, underlying conditions, or problems with the legs and feet.

Walking may seems to be an uncomplicated activity. However, there are many systems of the body, such as strength, coordination, and sensation, that work together to allow a person to walk with what is considered a normal gait.

When one or more of these interacting systems is not working smoothly, it can result in abnormal gait or walking abnormality.

“Gait” means the way a person walks. Abnormal gait or gait abnormality occurs when the body systems that control the way a person walks do not function in the usual way.

This may happen due to any of the following reasons:

  • illness
  • genetic factors
  • injury
  • abnormalities in the legs or feet

In some cases, gait abnormalities may clear up on their own. In other cases, an abnormal gait may be permanent. In either case, physical therapy can help improve a person’s gait and reduce any uncomfortable symptoms.


Abnormal gait is categorized as one of five types based on the symptoms or appearance of an individual’s walk. They are:

  1. spastic gait
  2. scissors gait
  3. steppage gait
  4. waddling gait
  5. propulsive gait

Spastic gait

Spastic gait occurs when a person drags his or her feet while walking. This type can also make someone appear to be very stiff when walking.

Scissors gait

A person whose legs bend inward will often have a scissors gait. With this type, a person’s legs cross and may hit each other while walking. The crisscross motion may resemble scissors opening and closing.

Steppage gait

Steppage gait occurs when a person’s toes point towards the ground while walking. Often, the toes will scrape against the ground as the person steps forward.

Waddling gait

As the name suggests, a person with a waddling gait moves from side to side when walking. Waddling involves taking short steps as well as swinging the body.

Propulsive gait

Propulsive gait is when a person walks with his or her head and neck pushed forward. It can appear as though the person is rigidly holding a slouched position.

In addition to these five types, a person with a limp is also considered to have an abnormal gait. Similarly to other abnormalities, a limp may be either temporary or permanent. A limp may also clear up without medical intervention.

For further information and to make an appointment please call:

Comprehensive Pain And Regenerative Center

Dorota M Gribbin, M.D.

Toll free 1-844-866-4488

MONROE 369 Applegarth Road, Suite 4, Monroe Twp, NJ 08831

MERCERVILLE 2333 Whitehorse Suite 8, Mercerville Rd, Mercerville, NJ 08619