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Walking tall: The challenge of correcting your gait

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Thanks to a bum knee, in elementary school I had to choose between two styles of special Oxford shoes to help correct my gait; I hated those ugly shoes. Luckily these days I have many cute options, along with custom orthotics.

Despite good shoes though, my plantar fasciitis recently sent me back to my physical therapist. Of course the first thing she had me do is walk back and forth across the room, a common sight at any physical therapy office.

 

Now, everyone from doctors and physical therapists to yoga instructors are teaching people how to walk properly.

A recent story in Vogue chronicles one woman's efforts to correct her bad habits at two walking and gait clinics — with a physical therapist in Santa Monica and with a yoga teacher in Brooklyn. Author Marisa Meltzer also checked in with Jessica Rose, MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University and director of the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Meltzer received immediate feedback from the physical therapist, displeased with the uneven wear of her shoes. As Melzter describes:

Finally, she instructs me to walk back and forth across the room. Her diagnosis: I’m constantly leaning back like a Looney Tunes character approaching oncoming traffic.

Similarly, Melzter visits a well-known yoga teacher, learning to straighten her upper body, rotate her pelvis, and swing her arms as she walks. She describes her new gait near the end of the article: “It feels unnatural, yet when I catch my reflection in the mirror I see I’m moving elegantly and with confidence.”

Jennifer Huber, PhD, is a science writer with extensive technical communications experience as an academic research scientist, freelance science journalist and writing instructor.

Previously: Walking-and-texting impairs posture – and walking, and texting, Walking and aging: A historical perspective and Global survey highlights the need for people to keep track of walking distance
Photo by sean_hickin

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