Do you remember the disco song by the Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive?” Two of the lines from the lyrics written by the late Robin Gibb said, “Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.” Robin is right. You can tell a lot about people from how they walk – not just if they’re a woman’s man or if they have time to talk or not. Everyone’s walk is different and unique. Some people walk quickly while others walk more slowly. More often than not, your walk or gait says a lot about how your feet, legs and hips are working while you walk. And that’s no “Jive Talkin’.”
What does your walk say about you then? Maybe some of these song titles sound like how your walk?
“Bang the Drum All Day”
Do your footsteps sound like you’re banging on a bass drum all day? When you walk, run or jump, your calf muscles help to pull your heel up to enable forward movement. But when your calf muscles and Achilles tendon are too tight, they’re less pliable, restricting the motion of the joint they’re connected to. This muscle tightness causes your walk to have a banging impact as your feet touch the ground. Therefore, to overcome tight calf muscles, you need to stretch them a few times a day – even if you don’t want to work.
Unusually tight calf muscles can also cause you to walk from your heel to your forefoot a little too quickly, because your ankle can’t bend as far as it should. This action causes your gait to appear like you’re bouncing or as the lyrics say, “Jump up, jump up and get down” with every step. Women are more apt to having a bouncy gait because of chronic high heel use. To get out of the House of Pain, make sure you stretch your Achilles tendon to keep it from packing up and in.
When your hip muscles are tight, it can cause twisting stress to build up in your leg as you step forward. When you lift your heel from the ground, you’ll experience a sudden recoil that causes your foot to twist against the ground similar to crushing a cigarette butt. If you don’t want to get twisty, twisty, twisty, you need to stretch your hip muscles.
“Walking on Broken Glass”
Several painful foot and medical conditions can cause you to feel like you’re walking on broken glass. These conditions include plantar fasciitis, heel pain, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, and peripheral neuropathy. You shouldn’t be made to suffer or made to weep, so if you don’t want to keep walking on broken glass, go see a doctor and have your feet checked out.
“Drop It Like It’s Hot”
Foot drop is a common problem for people who have had brain and spinal disorders like a stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or muscular dystrophy. These disorders can sever the nerve connections to the muscles in your foot and calf. Therefore, when you try to flex your foot upwards to take a step, the foot drops instead, slapping the ground or causing you to drag it across the ground. Foot drop can cause instability when you walk, making you more susceptible to tripping. And it just makes walking more difficult. Therefore, talk to your doctor about treatment options like physical therapy or foot braces or splints, so you don’t have to drop it like it’s hot.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)”
Actually it does mean something if you walk without much arm swing, it’s an indicator that your spine isn’t functioning as it should due to a limitation in mobility. Normally, when you walk, as your left leg comes forward, your spine goes into a right rotation and your right arm moves backward. This muscle coordination on both sides as you walk helps support your lower back. Without support, you may experience a future injury or back pain.
What Does Your Walk Say About You?: “Watch Your Step”
If you’re concerned about a change in your walk, see a foot and ankle specialist for an examination, accurate diagnosis and treatment.
You can also schedule an appointment with the WalkEZStore to have a free foot gait analysis done to determine what does your walk say about you. Founder and Certified Pedorthist Kathy Carandang can analyze your gait and make recommendations for improvement like the use of the ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotic. These custom orthotics will bio-mechanically align your feet into proper position, so every step you take throughout the gait cycle is optimally controlled – reducing stress and strain on your muscles while providing you with pain relief.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Cover photo credit: 123RF / rawpixel