How Your Gait Impacts Your Health

Have you ever considered how you walk? Not how fast or how stylish, but in what manner? That’s called gait—your walking style—and it can have a considerable impact on your health.

The body is an impressive, interconnected system. Making it move requires coordination between hundreds of bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Proper biomechanics ensure that pressure is distributed evenly and efficiently, whether you are stepping, running, or sprinting. There’s a lot going on at once, so you can imagine the impact an imbalance or abnormality in even one part of this complex series of motions could have on your health.

In some cases, minor gait abnormalities that go uncorrected can lead to injury or chronic pain. Take overpronation, for example, a common gait abnormality. When you overpronate, you might experience pain in the foot or ankle that can even reach up to the lower back. In addition, things like misaligned bones, or differences in leg length, can create pressure points that cause pain and even injury throughout the entire body—not just the site of the asymmetry.

Think about the last time you had to stay standing for a long time in an uncomfortable pair of dress shoes. Notice how you experienced pain not only in the feet and legs but up around the lower back! Over time, these abnormalities can affect our ability to participate in certain activities or to perform at our optimal level.

Of course, there are more severe abnormalities such as ataxia, foot drop, and severe limp resulting from injury or disease. Each of these serious conditions can put certain movements and activities completely out of reach, or cause chronic pain, loss of balance, and even more serious injury. These abnormalities can arise for a variety of reasons, including genetics, neurological conditions, and major injuries.

The good news is that no matter your condition, gait can be analyzed and improved with the help of a physical therapist. It takes time, and it takes commitment on behalf of the patient, but a normalized, healthier gait is possible for even the severest cases.

Stay tuned to the AlterG blog to find out how.