Gaitlink Method Resources

Andrew Swanson DC (retired)

Dr. Andrew Swanson is a distinguished figure in the field of chiropractic therapy, renowned for his pioneering development of the Gaitlink method. This innovative approach has revolutionized the treatment of back pain, offering a non-invasive solution that enhances mobility and alleviates discomfort. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Swanson has dedicated himself to extensive research and clinical practice, culminating in the creation of Gaitlink. His work has not only provided relief to countless patients but also contributed significantly to the understanding of biomechanics and physical health. Dr. Swanson’s commitment to improving quality of life through advanced therapeutic techniques continues to inspire healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Plexus magazine (WA State) – Oct/Nov 2022 edition

Andrew Swanson, DC
The Gaitlink Method

The Gaitlink Method is a 27-step protocol which follows the transfer of ground-reactive forces (GRF), resulting in a functional spine that often requires no further treatment. Months and years after completing the Gaitlink Method, patients have returned without spinal subluxations or joint disfunction. This is the result of over 33 years of investigations into the musculoskeletal response to GRF from repetitive heel strikes on a rigid surface. The human gait cycle begins with a heelstrike on a given surface that initiates a rebounding, weight equivalent GRF1,2. This force attenuates within the functional joint articulations of the foot. Further attenuation of this force continues within the functional joint articulations of the knee, hip, and pubic symphysis, respectively. All functional joint articulations of the body exhibit joint play or end play, which acts as a dampening spring when force is introduced. The accumulation of these protective springs within the joint articulations of the kinematic chain provides a significant reduction of GRF generated from repeated heel strikes within the gait cycle.

I theorize that this normal dampening mechanism has been supplanted with a bracing mechanism that is a result of a change in the ground we walk on. We no longer walk on variable surfaces such as tree roots and rocks, which promote continuous foot dampening adaptations to the changes in terrain. The Gaitlink theory states that these continuous foot adaptations to variations in terrain provide and sustain normal joint function throughout the kinematic chain.

Further, with the introduction of uniform, inflexible surfaces in our environment (e.g., concrete sidewalks), dampening adaptations are less prevalent and thus normal joint function is not stimulated. This reduction of joint adaptation, coupled with unyielding surfaces, activates a self-bracing mechanism within the kinematic chain. This bracing mechanism is a musculoskeletal protective response to a perceived undampened force, which causes a compression of joint surfaces.

Tom Michaud, in his first book Foot Orthosis states that “During a typical heel strike while walking, a person’s ground reactive vertical force averages 110% of body weight.” And that “each foot strikes the ground between 10 to 15 thousand times daily.” This results in around 700 tons of pressure traveling through the body.

I believe this results in continuous, protective bracing throughout the musculoskeletal system. The effect of continuous bracing is joint dysfunction of the articular surfaces, which involves a reduction or absence of normal planar movements available to a specific joint. Joint dysfunction further inhibits the spring adaptive mechanism allowing unchecked GRF to travel throughout the musculoskeletal system and promotes more bracing and joint dysfunction.

The Gaitlink Method is directed at joint dysfunction within the extremities with less emphasis on the spine and pelvis. Though little can be done to change the surfaces we walk on, we can restore normal joint function and GRF adaptation in the extremities. The Gaitlink method follows the transfer of GRF and returns motion to each link within the kinematic chain, from heel strike to arm pendulation, which results in both normalization of potential gait and an unclenching of dysfunctional joints within the spine and pelvis. By following this novel 27-step pattern, the spine unlocks itself naturally. For example, during this pattern, T1-T4 subluxations will resolve following sequential adjustments down the left arm. The resolution occurs immediately following adjustment. Through a collection of data, 85 percent of patients who completed the Gaitlink Method have a spine that maintains normal joint function, without the need for further chiropractic intervention. I have worked with professional, collegiate, and Olympic athletes using the Gaitlink approach to increase stride length and limit preventable sports injuries.

Gaitlink is the culmination of over 33 years of evolving methodology with the intent to restore self-sustaining force attenuation. This will provide continuous normal joint function throughout the spine and pelvis.

1 Inman, V.T.; Ralston, H. J., and F. Todd. Human Walking. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1981.
2 Katoh, Y.; Chao, E. Y. S., and R. K. Laughman. “Biomechanical Analysis of Foot Function during Gait and Clinical Applications.” Clinical Orthopedics (1983):177: 23-33.
3 Michaud Thomas, C. Foot Orthoses and Other Forms of Conservative Care Massachusetts: 1997: 28, 29.
4 Mennell, J. M. Functional Soft Tissue Examination and Treatments by Manual Methods. Connecticut: 1991: 192-194.