Sunday, September 4, 2011
Not Too Late to Change My Gait
I think we take walking for granted. It is something we learn when we are between 12-18 months old and then we take it from there. It becomes automatic and fluid. If you walk somewhere around a 15-16 minute mile, you take about two steps every second without even thinking about it. But each of those steps requires a lot of separate operations between the feet and legs. There are at four separate major parts to each and every step. We all take thousands of steps every day - I've averaged about 12,000 steps a day for the past few months even with this painful foot injury - without a second thought.
Well, my doctor who is doing the Active Release Therapy decided I should take a second thought. I paid for a gait analysis a couple of days after my sixtieth birthday and learned a lot. It was difficult, especially the part in my stocking feet, because my foot was still fairly painful. We fired the treadmill up to about 15 minute mile pace for walking and 10 minute mile pace for running. Because of the upcoming Komen 3-Day, we concentrated on walking.Among the things I was doing wrong, I was overstriding and heel striking at too steep an angle. I was bobbing up and down, several inches with each stride - all wasted energy. My arm carriage was poor. I didn't have enough knee drive. My hips are too weak and this results in my hips dropping with each stride, especially when running. The doc had a couple of sessions to review the results and work with me on some drills. High steps. Skipping. Arm drive. Barefoot walking. One of the instructive parts was when he filmed me walking without shoes at a 15 minute mile pace. You basically will stride correctly or close to it in order to protect your feet. Notice how much more shallow my heel strike is in this photo as contrasted to the last one. I've worked a good bit to change my walking gait in the six weeks since the gait analysis. I feel like it is working. I know that there are times when I lapse to old patterns. But I think in general, my gait is better - more knee drive, better arm position, smoother and shallower landing, and less bounce. I'd have to be filmed again to be sure. It is tough learning to walk all over again, but I think in the long run, it will be well worth it.