As a Reflexologist, I am always watching people’s gaits (the way they walk). A gait is the manner, or style of walk, and there are many types.
Walking is one of the earliest skills we develop growing up. You would think that walking was simple, but it’s not, as many people do not portray the proper posture when walking.
Some walking styles can cause the body to become unaligned, which can develop into pain or body aches down the road.
I find the way people walk, interesting. Some people walk fast with their bodies lurching forwards, while others waddle like a duck, some people drag their feet, and others walk with their knees facing inwards.
Here are some types of walking that can actually hurt you. Do you recognize your gait?
Antalgic Gait – is a gait that develops as a way to avoid pain while walking (antalgic = anti- + alge, “against pain”). It is a form of gait abnormality where the stance phase of gait is abnormally shortened relative to the swing phase. It can be a good indication of pain with weight-bearing.
Ataxic Gait – is an unsteady, staggering gait is described as an ataxic gait because walking is uncoordinated and appears to be ‘not ordered’.
Double-step gait – is a gait in which there is a marked difference in length or timing between the left and the right step.
Drag-to gait – a gait in which the patient slides the feet along the floor toward the advanced crutches or –exceptionally–canes.
Equine gait – a gait in which the foot is lifted high enough for the sagging forefoot to clear the walking surface; dropfoot gait is seen in paralysis of anterior tibial and peroneal muscles, and in lesions of anterior motor horn cells and cauda equina.
Propulsive or Festinating Gait – a manner of walking in which a person’s speed increases in an unconscious effort to “catch up” with a displaced center of gravity. It is a common characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.
Four-Point Gait – a gait in forward motion using crutches: first one crutch is advanced, then the opposite leg, then the second crutch, then the second leg, and so on.
Steppage or Hemiplegic Gait – is when a person stands with unilateral weakness on the affected side, arm flexed, adducted and internally rotated. Leg on same side is in extension with plantar flexion of the foot and toes.
Scissor or Spastic Gait – Legs move closely together causing a stiff walk (like the supermodels on the runway). It is a stiff, foot-dragging walk caused by a long muscle contraction on one side.
We all walk for transportation and exercise. If you include a walking regiment as part of your wellness program, you will not only build endurance, but you will also strengthen your bones and while managing your weight. For those who live a sedentary life style, the muscles in the legs become weak and walking can become difficult. For those who are overweight, the extra weight becomes a burden to your legs, knees and feet, which can lead to an abnormal gait.
The more walking you do, the more emphasis should be put on proper technique making sure that you are walking properly to avoid developing bad habits that can be a constant source of aches and pain down the road.
Here is an example of what is consider to be the proper method of walking which will help to keep your walking workouts safe and effective by perfecting your technique. Also check out the two accompanying videos.
Heel to Toe Walk Method – Comfortable and efficient walking begins with a good ground foot strike, which allows the ankles to move through the complete range of motion. These are the proper actions you should be taking when walking:
- Step forward landing squarely on the heel of your foot.
- Roll forward from the heel onto the ball of the foot.
- Raise the heel and push off with your big toe.
As the heel of moving foot is making contact with the ground, you are pushing your hip forward while propelling your back foot forward, while pushing off the ground. Never lift your entire foot completely off the ground while you are walking.
Video by Kris Porter – Heel Toe Walking – Beginner – Balance (YouTube.com)
(The speaker starts instantly, but the walking portion starts around 18 seconds)
You can practice this heel-to-toe motion while sitting in a chair. With your legs extended straight out in front of you, point your toes straight up towards the ceiling.
Now flex your left foot while pulling your toes towards you while pushing out your heel in the opposite direction. At the same time, on your right foot, push the toes out and pull up the heel. Now reverse the steps on the other foot.
If you feel a tightness or a burning sensation in the calves or shins, this means that the muscles are underutilized, and you may need to do some exercises and stretches to strengthen them.
About the writer – Helen Chin Lui is a certified Reflexologist and a certified Energy Medicine Practitioner. She is the owner of the Healing Place in Medfield, MA US
About the Healing Place
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