I'm sitting at Atlanta International Airport waiting for a lift to some foot and ankle education. Passing time is a combination of people watching for entertainment and the typical gait analysis I do at work.
As Yogi Berra said, you can tell a lot by just lookin.'
"Excuse me, I'm a licensed physical therapist. May I offer some suggestions regarding your gait?"
While never going that far, I can't resist analyzing, scrutinizing, and pondering how and why a person moves the way they do. Wonder! I mean, each leg with 29 bones and hundreds of joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments more or less doing their job, and people are walking around like it's no big deal.
How you walk is absolutely who you are. I'm not sure if one can claim that gait dictates personality, but that often seems to be the case. You can see the worry or stuck-upness or peace in the way the heel lifts from the floor.
Or maybe that person just really has to get to the bathroom.
Clients in the clinic often say something like, "My mom walked that way and I've been walking that way for years and that's just how I walk." And they're right.
But they and mom also had prematurly osteoarthritic knees or hips, warn lumbar discs, persistant plantar fasciitis, or metatarsalgia that has not responded to a myriad of treatments. A sincere attempt at rewiring some basic movment patterns in the family system is worth a shot.
Now it may take some serious mental effort and corrective stretching and strengthening. To get the toes pointed somewhat straight ahead via the foot, ankle, knee, and hip. To improve balance or create a little more bend with less rotational torque of the knee. To increase loading of the ball of the big toe, or maybe all of the above. Some issues require a different shoe, shoe modification, or orthotic that encourages rather than hinders a person from climbing out of the old rut.
You don't have to change 100% from the old pattern to some theoretically perfect gait pattern. Even moving, say, 50% differently can have a huge impact. I've seen plenty of instances where a new gait equals a new person.
Gait training won't create a totally new you, of course. But it certainly has the potential to provide you some freedom.
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