Checking Your Gait

Believe it or not, there is a proper posture and technique when walking. Your gait can determine whether or not you have foot, ankle, knee, hip, and even back pain. It can also lead to misalignment of bone structure for growing children.

A proper gait consists of a proper foot strike, as well as alignment in your walking stride. Your feet should bear weight, squarely on your feet (as opposed to bearing weight mostly on its right/left side or on the front/back of the feet).  Your toes should face forward instead of inward or outward. The positioning of feet can cause muscle tissue strain, as well as developmental misalignment for children as they grow.

Unless you have a condition that prevents you from walking with a proper gait, such as flat feet or developmental deformities, there are ways you can correct your gait. Check your gait and correct them with the following tips below:

  • Posture – Stand straight; pull shoulders back; look forward; chest slightly pushed out; abs/core engaged; feet hip distance apart. Avoid hunching, dragging your feet, and having your feet apart so that you look like you’re waddling.
  • Foot Strike – Your foot strike or step should begin with:
  1. Your heel landing square on the floor
  2. Rolling onto the middle and then shifting weight to the entire width of the ball of your foot (heel should begin to slightly lift and toes should be flexed)
  3. Shifting weight to each toe (starting with the pinky toe) hitting the floor, heel and mid-foot comes completely off the ground
  4. The front of the foot lifting up off the ground as the step is completed. Take several steps as you slowly assess your foot strike. This is also a good time to check for any signs of pain in your feet and ankles.

Practice makes perfect. While it may feel strange to think about practicing walking, it is important for you to do so if you have improper walking technique. It is the same with your sitting or standing back posture – it is something you must practice and be mindful about.

Additionally, try your best to be mindful of your walking technique when you are wearing shoes. Your feet may not be as sensitive as when they are barefoot, so you may revert to walking with under or over pronation or, as some people do, tip-toe walking. Try to resist dragging your feet, walking with heavy feet (a.k.a. “lead feet”), and straining tendons and ligaments to stabilize your feet (which may mean you need better-fitting shoes).

If you have other foot or ankle conditions that cause an improper gait, come speak with one of our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof at The Podiatry Group. Make an appointment today at our Jonesboro, AR office to have your gait assessed or to find solutions for your walking needs.