Gait Cycle Chart

Discover the importance of the Gait Cycle Chart, its phases, and how healthcare professionals can use our comprehensive template for effective gait analysis.

By Nate Lacson on Jun 03, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the gait cycle?

The gait cycle refers to the sequence of movements from when one foot touches the ground to when it touches the ground again. This fundamental concept in biomechanics provides insights into human locomotion. Early pioneers in biomechanics first analyzed the gait cycle extensively, recognizing its significance in understanding walking mechanics and diagnosing related disorders.

Understanding the gait cycle is crucial for healthcare professionals as it helps them assess and address walking abnormalities, which can indicate various medical conditions. By identifying deviations from the normal gait pattern, professionals can develop effective treatment plans to enhance patient mobility and quality of life.

Before we talk more about the gait cycle, here are some of its key terms and concepts:

  • Gait speed: The rate of walking, typically measured in meters per second (m/s). It provides a general measure of mobility and function.
  • Step: The movement from initial contact of one foot to initial contact of the opposite foot. It represents half of the gait cycle.
  • Stride: The movement from initial contact of one foot to the next initial contact of the same foot, encompassing two steps. It represents a full gait cycle.
  • Step time: The duration it takes to complete one step indicates rhythm and pace.
  • Step width: The lateral distance between the midpoints of the heel of one foot and the heel of the other foot during walking, indicating stability and balance.
  • Walking: A form of gait where at least one foot is in contact with the ground at all times. Walking involves periods of double support where both feet are on the ground.
  • Running: A form of gait characterized by periods when both feet are off the ground simultaneously. Running has phases of double float where neither foot is on the ground.

The purpose of knowing the Gait Cycle Chart is to provide a visual and conceptual framework for analyzing walking patterns. It helps professionals detect abnormalities, understand the underlying causes, and plan interventions to improve walking efficiency and safety. Next, let's talk about all the gait phases.

Printable Gait Cycle Chart

Download this Gait Cycle Chart to improve your analysis and assessment of patient gait abnormalities.

What is the stance phase?

The stance phase is a part of the gait cycle where the foot is in contact with the ground, supporting the body's weight. It constitutes about 60% of the entire gait cycle and plays a crucial role in maintaining stability and providing propulsion through ground reaction forces.

Initial contact

Initial contact occurs when the foot first touches the ground. Typically, this phase involves the heel strike, or the point when it hits the ground, setting the stage for the rest of the cycle. The goal is to position the foot to accept the body’s weight smoothly.

Loading response

During the loading response, the foot absorbs the body’s weight. Knee flexion aids in shock absorption. This phase is vital for distributing the ground reaction force and maintaining balance as the body transitions onto the supporting limb


In midstance, the body weight is directly over the supporting limb, with the foot flat on the ground. The foot provides single limb support and a stable base while the opposite foot is in the swing phase. This phase is critical for maintaining balance and stability.

Terminal stance

Terminal stance begins when the heel of the supporting foot starts to lift off the ground. During this phase, the body moves forward, and the weight shifts to the forefoot. This prepares the body for the push-off that will propel it into the swing phase.


Pre-swing occurs when the toes of the supporting foot are in contact with the ground, and the opposite foot is about to make initial contact. The body weight shifts to the opposite limb, and the foot prepares to leave the ground, concluding the stance phase.

What is the swing phase?

The swing phase is the portion of the gait cycle where the foot is off the ground, moving forward to prepare for the next step. This phase accounts for about 40% of the gait cycle and is crucial for limb advancement and positioning.

Initial swing

Initial swing begins when the foot lifts off the ground. The leg starts to move forward, and both the knee and hip flex to clear the foot from the ground. The ankle joint also plays a crucial role in this phase by adjusting to ensure proper foot clearance. This phase ensures that the foot does not drag and that the leg moves efficiently.


During midswing, the leg continues its forward motion, and the foot remains off the ground. The knee starts to extend in preparation for the next step. This phase allows the leg to move freely and positions it correctly for the final phase of the swing.

Terminal swing

Terminal swing involves the leg extending forward fully in preparation for initial contact. The foot is positioned to strike the ground, and the body prepares to transition back into the stance phase. This phase ensures a smooth transition and proper alignment for the next gait cycle.

What is a Gait Cycle Chart?

A Gait Cycle Chart visually represents the different phases and components of the gait cycle. This chart is a valuable tool for healthcare professionals to analyze and understand a patient's walking pattern. By breaking down the gait cycle into its constituent parts, the chart helps in identifying abnormalities and planning appropriate interventions.

The purpose of a Gait Cycle Chart is to provide a clear and detailed overview of the various stages of walking. It highlights the key phases of the gait cycle—stance and swing phases—and their respective subphases. By doing so, it allows healthcare professionals to pinpoint specific issues within the gait pattern, such as timing discrepancies, asymmetries, or abnormal movements.

Understanding and using a Gait Cycle Chart is essential for several reasons:

  • Diagnosis: It aids in diagnosing gait abnormalities that may result from neurological, muscular, or skeletal issues.
  • Treatment planning: It helps in designing targeted treatment plans and rehabilitation programs to improve gait and overall mobility.
  • Progress tracking: It allows for the monitoring of a patient's progress over time, providing a visual tool to assess improvements or changes in gait patterns.
  • Patient education: It serves as an educational tool for patients, helping them understand their gait mechanics and the importance of proper walking techniques.

The chart typically includes detailed descriptions and visual representations of each phase and subphase of the gait cycle, making it easier for both healthcare professionals and patients to grasp the complexities of human locomotion.

How does our Gait Cycle Chart template work?

Our Gait Cycle Chart template is designed as an informative handout for healthcare professionals to use as a quick reference. It provides a clear and concise overview of the gait cycle, including its phases, key terms, and descriptions of various gait patterns. This template can be used to educate both patients and medical students about the complexities of human locomotion.

Step 1: Access the template

Access the Gait Cycle Chart template from Carepatron’s platform. Ensure you have the latest version to benefit from any recent updates or improvements.

Step 2: Explain the template

Begin by explaining the purpose of the template to your patients or students. Describe how it helps them understand the different phases of walking and the importance of proper gait mechanics. Highlight the key terms and phases outlined in the template.

Step 3: Use as a reference

Use the template as a reference during consultations, gait assessments, or educational sessions. Refer to the detailed descriptions and visual representations to clarify concepts and identify specific issues within the gait cycle.

Step 4: Distribute the handout

Provide the template as a handout to patients or students. This document can serve as an educational resource, helping them understand their gait mechanics and the importance of proper walking techniques. Additionally, pin the template up on the wall in your clinic as a quick reference for professionals and students.

Benefits of using this chart

Using a Gait Cycle Chart offers several advantages for healthcare professionals and patients alike. Here are some key benefits:

  • Improved diagnostic accuracy: The chart helps healthcare professionals identify specific abnormalities in a patient’s gait, leading to more accurate diagnoses of underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, musculoskeletal issues, or balance problems.
  • Enhanced treatment planning: By understanding the distinct phases and components of the gait cycle, professionals can develop targeted treatment plans. This allows for more effective interventions and rehabilitation programs tailored to address specific gait abnormalities.
  • Educational resource: The chart serves as an excellent educational tool for both patients and medical students. It helps patients understand their walking mechanics and the importance of proper gait, while providing students with a visual and conceptual framework for learning about human locomotion.
  • Quick reference: As a quick reference tool, the chart can be easily pinned up in clinics or used during consultations. This allows healthcare professionals to swiftly recall information about the gait cycle and its phases, facilitating better communication and faster decision-making.
  • Progress monitoring: The chart aids in tracking a patient’s progress over time. By comparing gait analysis results from different sessions, professionals can assess improvements, adjust treatment plans as needed, and provide tangible evidence of progress to patients.

Why use Carepatron as your physical therapy software?

Carepatron offers a robust platform designed to streamline the management of physical therapy practices. Here are some key features:

  • All-in-one platform for management: Carepatron provides tools for scheduling, patient management, and clinical documentation. This integrated approach simplifies workflows and ensures that all necessary information is easily accessible.
  • Appointment reminders: Automated appointment reminders help reduce no-shows and ensure patients stay informed about their upcoming sessions. This feature improves patient engagement and practice efficiency.
  • Billing and payment features: Carepatron’s billing and payment features allow for seamless financial management. The platform supports invoicing, insurance claims, and secure payment processing, helping to maintain a smooth financial operation.
  • HIPAA-compliant storage for clinical notes and documentation: Carepatron ensures that all patient information and clinical notes are stored securely and in compliance with HIPAA regulations. This guarantees the confidentiality and integrity of patient data.

Carepatron provides a comprehensive solution to meet the needs of physical therapy professionals. Start enhancing your practice management today with Carepatron.

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What is the gait cycle?
What is the gait cycle?

Commonly asked questions

What is the gait cycle?

The gait cycle is the sequence of movements from when one foot contacts the ground to when the same foot contacts the ground again.

What is a normal gait pattern?

A normal gait pattern involves smooth, rhythmic, and symmetrical movements with balanced stride lengths and consistent timing between steps.

What are the 8 types of gait?

The 8 types of gait include hemiplegic, diplegic, neuropathic, myopathic, choreiform, ataxic, parkinsonian, and sensory gait.

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