Walking is a vital function in our daily lives. The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. This equates to about 115,000 miles during an average lifetime – or walking the circumference of the Earth more than four times.
When we walk, most people do it without really thinking about it. But, walking is a complex process that requires our whole body – head, shoulders, arms, spine, hips, legs, and feet – to move in sync, maintaining balance and coordination. However, in this blog post, we are going to concentrate on the motion of your feet and legs.
Your feet and legs are what propel your body forward as you walk. During a normal gait cycle, your feet land on either side of an imaginary line that moves forward in the direction you are traveling. You begin to walk with one leg extended in front of the other. As your heel on the forward leg strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly bent. Your landing foot will roll forward, stabilize, and allow your body’s weight to be shifted to this foot. Your bent knee on this leg will absorb the shock of the step. As your leg moves straight over your foot, this is called mid-stance. As your leg continues to move forward, the knee straightens. Your heel on the forward foot will lift off of the ground, transferring all the force of the step to the ball of your foot. While this action occurs, your rear foot forcefully pushes off from your toes. This motion, called propulsion, moves your body forward. Your rear leg and foot will then swing forward like a pendulum, becoming the forward leg and foot. This process is then repeated rhythmically with every step you make. These repeated rhythmic steps are known a the gait cycle.
Improper Foot Mechanics Increase Your Risk of Pain and Injury
If your feet maintain their proper position during walking, your legs will perform efficiently. However, if your feet aren’t doing their job correctly, then the joints in your knees, hips, and lower back will have to compensate for this poor positioning and decreased stability. Eventually, since your knees, hips, and lower back weren’t designed to handle this increased stress from walking, they will start to deteriorate, causing you pain and possible injury.
The two most common walking styles are:
Pronation – Each time the foot strikes the ground, the arches on the feet are flattened, causing the ankle to tip inward. This action absorbs the shock from the heel striking the ground and helps the person maintain their balance during mid-stance.
During overpronation, a person’s ankles tilt inward too much, causing them to carry their weight on their inner soles. The muscles in the lower legs will pull and the person’s knees will turn inward (also called knock-kneed). The person will have decreased stability in their knee area, a shorten stride, and poorer balance. Eventually, they will suffer from knee, hip and lower back pain. Overpronation is the cause of 90-95% of all foot problems.
Supination – The exact opposite of pronation, a person’s ankles tilt outward too much, causing them to carry their weight along the outside of their feet.
With oversupination, the lower legs’ outer muscles are stretched too much and can cause the knee to bow outward (also called bow-legged). This can lead to pain and injury of the ankle. Sometimes, oversupination can cause the ankle to actually roll over, resulting in a ligament injury. Oversupination is the cause of 5-10% of foot problems.
Also, at times during oversupination, the person’s weight can’t be transferred through the longitudinal arch. Without the use of the arch, the foot can’t move forward properly. The hip joint is forced to work harder, swinging the leg forward in a circular motion instead of the foot being pushed off with the arch and big toes. This swinging motion creates tension on the lower back as the muscles elevate the hips in order to clear the toes and tightens the gluts. Eventually, this tension can lead to lower back pain, muscle imbalance, and spinal issues.
A proper step must consist of some degree of pronation and supination. The ankle joint must pronate at mid-stance and supinate at propulsion for the foot to walk biomechanically efficient. It is when you have excessive pronation and supination that problems can arise. Eventually, overpronation and oversupination can lead to fatigue and microscopic tears in the muscles and tendons that can trigger inflammation, swelling, pain, and even scarring throughout the lower half of the body.
Realign Your Gait with ezWalker® Performance Insoles
Since the introduction of the ezWalker® Performance Insole in 2008, many people have reported improved foot health. Most cases show improvement in about 1 year, but there has been proven improvement in as little as 6 months. This is due to the unique impression process used to capture the foot in a desirable biomechanical position in the impression foam. With the WalkEZstore impression kit, complete with video demonstration, you can create your impressions in your own home at your convienance. From this foam impression, a plaster mold is made and used to fabricate the custom orthotic branded “ezWalker® Performance Insoles”. Continued use of this product over time will enhance your gait and relieve your pain.
If you believe you have overpronation and oversupination, first, have your feet and gait evaluated by a certified professional. Then, you may want to consider wearing a custom orthotic device, such as the ezWalker® Performance Insoles. These performance insoles strategically raise the medial, lateral, and trans-metatarsal arches of your feet to provide you with proper bio-mechanical support. Your feet will be guided to walk from lateral heel to medial forefoot. And since your feet will be better biomechanically aligned, each step will be controlled throughout the gait cycle, reducing the stress and strain on your feet, knees, hips, and/or lower back. ezWalker® Performance Insoles will help you maintain balance, stability, and proper posture – while providing pain relief. For more information on how ezWalker® Performance Insoles can improve your foot mechanics, contact us today. To order your pair of performance insoles, visit our online shop.
ezWalker® Performance Insoles make all your shoes feel like they walk for you. Remember… when your feet feel good, you feel good.