“One foot in front of the other and repeat”. For most it is a simple process that we’ve been carrying out since early childhood. It may have taken a few years to get right, but after that we take it for granted unless something goes wrong.
Walking is the basis of all human motion. Whatever your exercise of choice, read on to find out why your walk matters.
Many of us can recognise friends or family from a long distance simply by their walk. Our personal gait is affected by many factors. These include gender, back flexibility, foot size and structure and overall build.
Problems with walking are often the first indicator that something isn’t right. Most of us know an older person with hip trouble, and the resulting characteristic walk due to the discomfort. Knees turning out can indicate osteoarthritis, while knock knees can be caused by the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
Your walk can speak volumes to a health professional.
Human beings have been walking upright for millions of years, but this posture still gives us problems. Putting all our weight on just two limbs makes us prone to back and knee trouble, especially with our heavy heads badly placed right at the top.
Bad posture, bad shoes or even the conformation of our bodies can put our walk out of balance. That can lead to joint trouble and back strain.
Humans walk (and run) by putting the heel down first and then rolling the weight forward through the foot. If we were built with one leg from the centre line of our bodies, there would be no sideways motion in that foot. As our feet are to either side of our body, a sideways motion of the foot is inevitable. This is known as pronation and is individual to each of us.
Normal pronation means that the foot rolls inwards about 15 degrees with each step. Rolling further inwards than this is over-pronation, rolling less is under-pronation. Knowing which one of these is you affects your choice of exercise shoes. This is particularly important for runners.
A painful heel can indicate plantar fasciitis, while pain in the forefoot or toes can indicate the start of a nerve problem known as Morton’s neuroma. There is no need to suffer and no-one should ignore such problems. See your GP for a referral to a specialist.
Orthotic devices designed by a podiatrist can make a huge difference to your feet by correcting their function. That will improve your walking and running, as well as helping many other problems caused by a poor gait. It is also possible to have your gait analysed to check for any other issues.
Walking properly is the key to so many other things in your body. It is well worth making sure that your walk is as good as it can be.
I was only thinking the other day how many people I know who seem to have problems with their feet. We don't look after them well enough, considering how much we put them through each day.
You have prodded me into taking this painful foot to the doctor rather than 'powering through'. Thank you - it sounds like it does matter and maybe it can be fixed.