Walking, Posture, and balance
Lower Extremities – Legs
Walking! The balancing act.
Walking requires a gentle ‘pendulum’ like motion from one leg to the other via the pelvis. Ideally we would like to see the legs move straight ahead, with the knee a visual as well as sensory landmark to focus or assess how we move.
Look at what’s happening at your knees. When walking do they turn out, in, or can they move straight ahead?
The structure of the knee and ankle joints are hinge, and function best when facing forward. This provides a design that is both functional as well as economical in movement. Compare the way your legs move forward to that of a cars tyres and steering. If your tyres are not properly aligned, then they’ll most surely begin to wear unevenly, and eventually be replaced prematurely. The same can be said for the way we walk. Poor mechanics and movement patterns of the feet, legs, and hips, may have a similar wearing effect. Sure, the body is tougher and more resilient than rubber tyres, but a similar principle applies.
What are your feet doing when you walk?
Do you land on your heel allowing the feet to roll forward through to the toes, or do you slap your feet down flat moving forward as if your feet are rigid boards that somehow propel you forward
Take time to notice what your feet are doing. Slow down and feel for the softness in your feet as your heel gently and softly lands on the ground to initiate the ‘rocker’ like cycle of heel to toe walking. What are your knees doing? Do they go straight ahead or do they angle to the left or right as you walk?
Make sure you are not forcing your legs to track straight ahead. The human body allows us a little flexibility to move within a healthy range — working a ‘little’ from the ideal.
Suggestion: If movement is forced, then go without it.
The moment that movement is forced and requires extensive muscular contraction to ‘create’ or generate a sought after pattern of ‘organic’ movement, then we have lost the goal of the desired action. If this occurs, back off until you find yourself moving at a comfortable speed and range knowing that this is where you should be ‘right now’. Understand that this will change and improve as you become more open and aware of the goals of each movement, sequence of movements, and functional goals of postural awareness.
CONFLICT AT THE KNEE
Too many variables exist at the knee for movement to be taken for granted.
Our body in its wisdom to keep us moving forward, creates an environment where movement from the ground up is geared towards this end - always striving to aim straight ahead. Quite often, the means to this end is not as important at an unconscious level, as we would desire. For example, when we have a fallen arch the leg will often tend to internally rotate as a natural pattern. However the body in an attempt to provide balance and direction will work out a way in which to bring movement back to forward momentum.
An example of the myofascial implication of this can be seen in the Peroneus Longus muscle - a muscle that helps lift the lateral arch of the foot. When myofascial restrictions exist in this muscle there will a tendency towards an INCREASED EVERSION (turning our of the foot), and a DECREASED SUPPORT of the foot on the ankle.
The compensation that’s created from this issue can create changes further up the kinetic chain. Imagine now, the impact this would have if you were moving through a compound movement, such as a Squat?
Consider: Swing Phase and Stance Phase of walking
What are the arms doing in walking?
When walking in a comfortable rhythm your arms will move forward in an opposite pattern to that of the legs. For example, as the right leg moves forward, the left arm will move forward.
Do not force the direction of movement. Let your arms swing in an alternating pattern without restricting or exaggerating their movement. This will allow your hips and torso to move freely and without tension.