Yes, there are ways to correct the way that you walk. It may not be something you’ve ever thought about because it feels like an activity that is second nature, like breathing or standing. But don’t be fooled – years of improper walking can lead to painful problems with your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and even your back.
Some folks may not walk properly due to deformities or conditions that cause our bodies to compensate a certain way, such as with flat feet or arthritis. On the other hand, some may develop issues because of the way they walk, like with over or under-pronation.
So how can you walk better? The following are tips we’d like to share with our patients:
- Proper Posture – When walking, try your best to have good posture: standing up straight; shoulders back; looking forward (not down); chest forward; abs/core engaged; feet hip distance apart.
- Proper Foot Strike– Unless you are flat footed, there is a good chance that when you walk barefoot, you have a proper foot strike. Each step should begin with 1. your heel landing square on the floor, then 2. rolling onto the entire ball of your foot (heel should begin to slightly lift and toes should be flexed), and then 3. shifting to each toe (starting with the pinky toe) hitting the floor and then lifting up off the ground as the step is completed. If you notice that your step has you rolling more to one side or another, try to be more mindful as you practice your walking steps.
- Proper Gait – Proper gait requires proper foot strike, as well as proper alignment of your stride. When walking, not only is it essential to walk squarely on your feet, it is also important that your toes face forward so that your ankles are in a neutral position. If your feet seem to make a V shape or an upside-down V shape, you will inevitably strain tendons and tissues along the sides of the ankle and in the heel.
- Barefoot vs. Shoes – You may have better foot strike and gait when you are barefoot. That is because your feet feel the ground and so adjust the way your steps hit the floor. With shoes, you cannot feel the floor, so you may develop bad walking habits. Some bad habits include: dragging your feet (which you will notice by how your outer sole wears down), heavy impact/stomping (which can hurt the knees), and limiting the natural movement of feet (tightening tissues or tendons).
If you experience pain while walking, check your technique. Also take note of the way the ground may be slanting, how flexible and supportive your shoes are, and whether or not you have blisters. Come see our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Carl Ingrassia at Fords Foot and Ankle Care. Using the latest trends in podiatry, Dr. Ingrassia will provide top-notch care for you and your family. Make an appointment today by calling (732) 738-4441 at our Fords, NJ office!