• Bernard P. Kemker, MD

How to Improve Your Walking Pattern?

Gait is a person's pattern of walking which involves balance and coordination of muscles so that the body is propelled forward in a rhythm, called the stride. There are tons of possibilities that may cause an abnormal gait such as neurological conditions, orthopedic problems, and medical conditions.


Gait - Walking Pattern | Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Types of Gaits

  • Spastic gait

  • Scissors gait

  • Steppage gait

  • Waddling gait

  • Propulsive gait


Common Causes of Abnormal Gait

  • Pain and Disability

  • Abnormal development of the muscles or bones of your legs or feet

  • Arthritis of the hips, knees, ankles, or feet

  • Cerebellar disorders, which are disorders of the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance

  • Foot problems, including corns and calluses, sores, and warts

  • Injuries, such as fractures (broken bones), sprains, and tendinitis

  • Movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease

  • Neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders

  • Vision problems

The chance of a gait disorder increases with age, as older people tend to experience more conditions that cause an abnormal gait and typically have weaker muscles, delayed reaction and less muscle coordination than younger people.


Getting a gait analysis done can be helpful as it looks at how your whole body works and measures how your entire body moves and functions.


Addressing the Primary Cause

Obviously, it depends on the primary cause (discussed above) which should be addressed first in order to improve your gait. There are few more things such as gait training exercises that are meant to help strengthen your muscles and improve stability. In some cases, it might be necessary to undergo a physical therapy program to decrease pain, rehabilitate, and correct problems with your gait.


Training Exercises

There are some targeted exercises that may also help improve your gait:

  • Walking on a treadmill

  • Lifting your legs

  • Sitting down

  • Standing up

  • Stepping over objects

  • Heel raises and toe raises

  • Practicing standing on one leg while holding onto a wall or sturdy desk for stability

  • Lying flat on your back, raise your knees towards your chest


Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a vital role in helping individuals improve their gait. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help address your specific needs and goals. The therapist will design an individualized program to treat your specific condition, which could include:

  • Pre-gait training

  • Gait training

  • Balance and coordination training

  • Neuromuscular re-education

  • Range of motion and strengthening exercises

  • Bracing and splinting

  • Walking and stepping exercises


Takeaway

Walking is something that the average person probably doesn’t give much thought. Many people can move about with abnormal or asymmetrical gait patterns for years without any symptoms. However, when someone experiences an injury or pain, normal gait can be altered, resulting in abnormal walking that can lead to bigger health issues. If your gait isn’t quite right, getting early medical attention is wise as it is mostly treatable.


The thing is, everybody is different, and what might be true about someone else’s style of walking or running might not be true about yours. Getting an appointment with your physician can lessen or avoid potential future outcomes that can result from the abnormal gait.


Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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