What is Gait?
M.W Whittle in his book called Gait Analysis, defines Gait as “œA method of locomotion involving the use of the two legs, alternately, to provide both support and propulsion.”Webster dictionary simply defines Gait as “˜manner of walking or stepping’.
Everyone has a distinct gait or style of walking. The very seemingly normal process of walking is actually quite a complex one. It involves several of your body parts. They all interact and collectively originate your “˜style of walking’ which has a distinct way of head carriage, arm swing, shoulder girdle, knee action and foot movement.
Your gait is comprised of various stages. Gait is divided into firstly a ‘stance phase’, where the foot is in contact with the ground but is static. The second phase is the ‘swing phase’ wherein the foot is not in contact with the ground
An average person walks approximately 2500 steps everyday. If you have an incorrect gait, you will possibly be repeating the error over a million times making yourself susceptible to Structural Pain. The way you walk impacts your weight bearing joints like ankles, knees and hips. If you walk in an improper manner, you will not only have to deal with pains but you may also eventually wear your joints off..
Proper Gait or the right way of walking is comprised of two essential factors ““ right posture and right foot movement.
Some people believe that good posture is all about tucking your tummy in and holding your chest up high. Unfortunately, good posture is not all that. On the contrary, this style throws all your body weight to your rear and this may give you problems with your lower back.
Then what is the right posture? You can easily determine the right posture. Go and stand in your natural posture with your back against the wall. If only your upper back and your bottom is touching the wall, it means you slouch. The right posture is when your upper back, bottom, your shoulders, and the back of your neck also touch the wall.
The right posture is when your body is properly aligned. Your ears should be loosely above your shoulders. This ensures that your head is aligned with your neck and spine and not pushed forward. Your chin should be tucked to the head level in order to maintain the alignment. Your shoulders should be upright and in alignment with your hips. Check your side profile in the mirror. See if your spine shows you its natural “˜S’ or double “˜C’ curve.
Once your posture is correct, foot movement is not much a concern. Some people walk with their heel coming in contact with the floor first then followed by the forefoot. This is the natural foot movement for a lot of people. Although models walk with their forefoot in contact with the ground first and heel next, you don’t necessarily have to walk like a model. Stride should be medium and not very small nor very big. Take medium steps and walk in a moderate pace.
When you walk, your footsteps should alternate each other in a parallel line. Female models are taught to walk in a way that one foot comes exactly in front of the other foot, with their footsteps aligned in a straight line instead of two parallel lines. In a man’s way of walking, you may see there is a wider gap between the parallel lines of the footsteps. Walking with one step ahead another adds a certain amount of grace to a woman’s gait. Taking big strides keeping your legs a little far from each other makes a impression of good manly walk.
Gait is a highly subjective to distinct individual styles. Just as Shakespeare writes in Julius Caesar “œI do know him by his gait”; you will be known and recognized with your gait. Just keep the posture right and there you will have a proper gait without causing any pains or weight imbalance.
Walking Gait Abnormalities
There are several walking abnormalities which are caused due to uncontrolled and unusual walking patterns which are caused due to injuries or diseases caused to the spinal cord, brain, feet, legs or inner ear. Some of walking abnormalities include:
- Scissors gait:In this condition, legs get flexed slightly at the knees and hips like couching, it looks as if the thighs and knees are crossing or hitting each other in a scissor ““ like movement.
- Spastic gait: In this condition, a long muscle of the foot contracts on one side resulting in a stiffing.
- Propulsive gait:In this condition, the body stoops and attains a stiff posture along with the forward bent of the head and neck.
- Waddling gait: In this condition, the body attains a duck-like walk which appears in childhood or in later stage of life.
- Steppage gait: In this condition, the foot drops or hangs with the toes facing down, due to which the toes scratch the ground while walking and requires the body to raise them high while walking.