The way we walk
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - August 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Our strides, be it slow or fast, brings us to wherever we want to go and each step that we take is a complicated action that involves some parts of our brains and all the way down to our toes. Clinical researchers have studied our posture, gait and pace and these researchers can actually tell what troubles us by simply observing the way we walk.

Faster pace – in studies made on people over 65, fast walkers tend to live longer lives but this does not mean that we need to double up and push ourselves to walk faster.  Slow walkers could have some medical issues which causes a slower stride.  Better slow and sure than sorry.

Leaning left – anxiety and stress causes us to veer to our left when we walk.  Researchers concluded that the right side of our brains work harder to handle our concerns and nervousness.

Tip toe – it could be a sign of cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.  Or maybe, our Achilles tendon lacks the length to let our heel touch the ground easily when we walk.  Tip-toeing is common in autistic children.

Limping – injuries could be the reason and as we get older, arthritis becomes an unwelcome tenant on our weakened knee and ankle joints.

Plodding – we all have experienced bad days when it seems like we have a heavy load on our shoulders and we move in a slow and deliberate pace.  Depression makes us walk like this but as our mood improves, we bring the energy back on our steps.

Swaying/off balance – this is common on people involved in contact and combat sports.  A blow to the head could cause some brain issues making our world spin.  We rock back and forth trying to keep our balance as we walk.  Alcohol could also be the cause as it makes us lose our sense of orientation with an uneven and stumbling walk.  Many of us experienced this drink-induced one step forward, two steps backward kind of thing.

Foot drop – or slapping steps, as if we’re climbing invisible stairs.  A nerve, brain or spinal disorder causes our toes to drag and we tend to step higher to remedy the situation.

Robot walk – a bad back or a herniated disc makes us move with one whole side together.  To avoid discomfort, we turn our shoulders and chest to match our hips as we walk and our arms sway with our legs instead of going the opposite way.

Foot dragging – slow scrapping footsteps could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.  Our brain takes time to communicate to move our leg muscles which causes the shuffling.  Shuffled steps in a bent posture with no arm movement is called “Parkinson’s gait”.

Stiff, unsteady and twisted gait – this could be a sign of multiple sclerosis, a disease that causes our immune system to attack our central nervous system, which includes our brain and spinal cord.  Because there is a communication breakdown, we lose feelings in our feet, move stiffly, swing our steps and lose our balance often.

Slowing down – medical research says that the way we had slowed down on our walk over time could be a precursor to Alzheimer’s or other memory-related issues.  Eventually, our speed slows down as the disease progresses.

With proper exercise and nutrition, we hope we may not encounter these missteps as we advance in age.  Meanwhile, let’s continue the easiest, cheapest and satisfying exercise of all – walking.

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