What is gait? It’s a person’s manner of walking and everyone has a distinct gait or style of walk.
The seemingly normal process of walking is actually quite a complex one and 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 comprises of several stages. Firstly a ‘stance phase’ where the foot is in contact with the ground but is static. The second phase is where the heel lifts as we move forward. The third stage is the ‘toe off’ stage as our foot leaves the floor. Then we go into the ‘swing phase’ where the foot is not in contact with the ground and travels forward in the air. Followed by heel strike, foot flat and back to ‘stance phase’.
An average person walks approximately 2500 steps every day. If you have an incorrect gait due to injury, bad foot or hip mechanics you will most likely end up with some form of structural joint pain. The way you walk impacts your weight bearing joints like ankles, knees and hips. If you walk incorrectly, in time you will not only have to deal with pain but you’re more likely to wear away your joints. Proper gait or the right way of walking is comprised of two essential factors, correct posture, and correct 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.
So what is the right posture? You can easily determine the right posture. Go and stand in your natural pose 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.
Let’s look at your posture. Looking from the side, 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 in in order to maintain alignment. Your shoulders should be upright and in alignment with your hips. Check your side profile in the mirror.
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 at a moderate pace.
Walk this way
When you walk, your footsteps should alternate each other in a parallel line. Some women are taught to walk in a way that one foot comes exactly in front of the other, with their footsteps aligned in a straight line instead of two parallel lines. Walking with one step ahead another adds a certain amount of grace to a woman’s gait. In a man’s way of walking, you may see there is a wider gap between the parallel lines of the footsteps. Taking big strides keeping your legs a little far from each other makes an impression of a good manly walk.
FLexercise teachers focus on body alignment, they can teach how to stand and walk correctly. Just keep your posture right and you will have a proper gait without causing any pains or weight imbalance.