by Brian Allred
I always joke with my patients that walking is one of those things that you learn to do when you are about a year old and then never think about it again until you are in physical therapy. It’s pretty amazing that something as complicated as walking happens subconsciously. I have a book that is about a half-inch thick that details a single step—things like how much the right knee bends when it swings and which muscles are active while your weight is on the left leg. Granted, there are a lot of charts and graphs, but walking is a seriously complex activity. That means that when your walking gets a little (unintentionally) funky, it can be hard to know what is wrong and what to do differently. I’m sure everybody has seen someone with a limp and wondered why. Or you’ve seen an old man hobbling along and worried that he was just going to fall over in front of you. Maybe that’s just me.
I just touched on how complex walking is, so I’m not going to try to cure the world’s walking problems in a short blog article. But I’ve learned a trick that can help with several of the most common issues that I see. Are you ready?
Step with your heel first
Most of us are doing that already, but focusing on making sure that the heel is the first part of the foot to hit the floor will encourage a variety of things. You will be more likely to avoid things like:
- Catching your toe on the floor
- Walking on a bent knee
- Taking overly short steps
- Scuffing your heel
- Walking too slowly
All of that for the low, low price of stepping with your heel first.
Brian Allred, PT, DPT