Why gait and posture go hand in hand

Dr. Gregory Stoltz

October 2, 2021

How our walk affects our health

It’s time to realize the truth—many Canadians have bad posture. While this may not seem like a huge deal, poor posture can lead to back pain, joint degeneration, spinal dysfunction, and more complications.

Most of us link poor posture to sitting at our desks, slouching, or bending over our phones. However, did you know that gait and posture have a connection as well? Often times it’s forgotten that a person is much more than just a bunch of body parts, at least when it comes to healthcare.

We break ourselves into specific parts where we feel the pain, instead of taking into consideration that we as a whole have a pattern of behaviours that might affect our overall health. This is often the case with diet and fitness, but also with gait and posture.

Improper body alignment can create postural problems. On the other hand, walking correctly and with the right technique can help prevent these issues.

Many of us have bad habits while walking, such as keeping our heads down or slouching. These habits can put unnecessary strain on our bodies that can result in discomfort and poor posture.

The right gait can help you avoid postural problems, straining the body, and a sore or achy body as a result of poor posture.

What is gait?

Gait refers to a person’s pattern of limb movements as they walk. There’s also step length or the distance between the initial point of contact of one foot and the point of contact of the other foot. Stride length refers to the distance between the initial points of contact.

Normally, stride lengths remain equal.

Gait analysis is one way to improve your posture as you walk or run. Runners may get a gait analysis to improve their form.

How does it affect your posture?

Let’s take the example of running again. Planting your feet properly can prevent issues like overstriding, which is a running mistake often seen with long-distance runners that result in more shock and decreased performance. Even walkers can make this mistake if they’re trying to increase speed.

The ideal initial contact should happen under a person’s centre of gravity as this lessens the likelihood of injury and can improve performance.

So how does your gait affect your posture as you walk?

A study on patients with anterior hip pain revealed that they would walk with a swayback posture. The study also found that the pain would be reduced if the patients started walking with proper posture.

The study examined subjects that maintained three different postures: natural, swayback, and forward flexed. Those that moved with a swayback posture experienced a higher peak hip extension angle. In short, improper posture while walking can cause more strain on the body, which may contribute to types of pain, like anterior hip pain.

Efficient moving techniques

You can avoid putting strain on the body by walking with proper posture.

  • Keep your head up as you walk, with your ears above your shoulders and your chin parallel to the ground. If it helps, you can imagine an invisible string holding your head up.
  • Keep your eyes focused in front of you. Not only does this help to keep your body aligned, but it also helps you stay safe as you can quickly spot and react to obstacles and dangers in your way.
  • Try to elongate your spine as you walk and avoid slouching or hunching your shoulders. Hunching over or leaning forward can put stress on your back muscles.
  • Make sure you keep your shoulders back and down. Tense or hunched shoulders can strain muscles in your neck, upper back, and shoulders.
  • When you walk, make sure to step from heel to toe and maintain a steady gait. Strike the ground with your heel and push forward with your toes.

Foot pressure and injury

We may not often think of foot posture, but it can affect our health as well. Studies have looked into the connection between foot pressure or plantar pressure and foot posture while walking.

The Foot Posture Index (FPI) quantifies foot posture. It’s a clinical tool that can determine the degree that a foot might be pronated, neutral or supinated.

Improper walking techniques, such as putting excessive pressure on soles or heels, can result in pressure injuries.

Benefits of proper posture

Proper posture has many benefits, such as:

  • Improving discomfort or pain while walking or running
  • Optimal digestion
  • Reduce tension that may cause headaches
  • More energy
  • Higher levels of confidence
  • Improved concentration
  • Reduced lower back pain
  • Less tension in your back and shoulders
  • Less risk of wearing down joint surfaces
  • More lung capacity
  • Better circulation
  • Better balance

Let’s break down some of the most common benefits for your overall health.

Pain-free

Did you know poor posture can contribute to headaches? Tension headaches can occur as a result of excess muscle tension in your neck. Proper posture can reduce some of this tension.

Lower back pain is an extremely common complaint among adults of all ages. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons people see a chiropractor.

Poor posture can result in body pains, such as lower back pain. When you’re not slouching, you’re not putting as much pressure on the spine.

Better circulation

It only makes sense that if you’re compressing a part of your body, you’re limiting circulation. Proper alignment means you’re not compressing parts of your body, like your vital organs, which encourages healthy blood flow.

Less tension

We mentioned earlier that proper posture and gait reduce muscle tension, which can help with headaches. It also helps reduce strain and tension in other parts of the body. This is good for bone, joint, and muscle health.

Better balance

Not only does proper posture help us as we’re sitting and walking, but also as we work out. When you engage your core and maintain a neutral spine, you can help prevent injury during exercises like squats. You’ll have better form and balance as well.

How can a chiropractor help with gait and posture?

It can be tough for people to pinpoint poor posture and learn how to correct it on their own. Now that you know about the connection between gait and posture, you can see a chiropractor.

At Elysian Wellness Centre, our chiropractors have the expertise needed to diagnose injuries and provide proper treatments. Call us or book an appointment today to see the benefits of a chiropractor for yourself.

 

 

 

Dr. Gregory Stoltz - Chiropractor

October 2, 2021

With his extensive education and experience, Dr. Gregory Stoltz brings a wealth of medical, biomechanical and physiological knowledge to every patient he treats. Dr. Stoltz completed his Doctor of Chiropractic degree at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, New York.