Do you walk with your feet turned out?
Perhaps you don't even know you are doing it - so take a look or ask a friend to watch you walk.
Sometimes you see it so much that you think it is normal - but it isn't and it is causing you to increase the load and stress on lots of other joints.
I for one know that as a teenager and young adult I did it a lot - and to this day i still have to catch myself occasionally.
It may even partly help explain why I had so many back issues as a young man....but that is another story...
One of the biggest problems with this way of moving is that we do so much of it. In fact we are all supposed to clock up about 10000 steps a day.
That is a lot of practice doing the wrong thing.
So what can you do about it?
One thing that seems almost too obvious is to pay attention.
Try walking with the feet pointing straight and start reinforcing this correct pattern. Get those 10,000 steps working in your favour - not against you.
Another perhaps less obvious option (until you think about it) is to start taking notice of the way way your feet point when standing still.
Your standing posture creates your default or go to position for the joints of your body. So make a conscious effort to align those feet when standing as well - this not only lines up the feet, knees and hips ready for movement but it also improves the stability around the hip and makes it easier not to stand with the pelvis pushed forward.
This one change improves the position of the low back and even makes it harder to slump in the neck and shoulder region. Win - Win Right!!!!
By standing this way you might just find that walking in the right way becomes easier to.
The next thing is to consider how the ankle moves. Stiff ankles that won't bend into dorsiflexion (which is when your foot goes towards your shin) creates a situation where the foot has to turn outwards and your arch collapses to create the necessary "bend" needed to walk.
Whilst we can adjust and mobilise these joints you too can do some simple mobilisation drills to help this (See our previous blog on ankle mobility).
Then there is also the issue of strength. if you have been walking a certain way for years, some muscles are going to be strong and some of the unused ones are going to be weak. If your arch has been forced to collapse over and over again to compensate, then starting with basic exercises is a great idea.
One seemingly simple exercise is the classic toe yoga exercise that fires up the muscles of the foot and arch. The exercise starts by pressing the big toe down while lifting the other four toes up, holding for a few seconds, then lifting the big toe up while pressing the other four toes down. Do 10 - 20 repetitions. This is often a coordination challenge as well - so good luck!
Like everything there are of course other factors - but common things happen commonly, so there is value in starting here.
If you know of someone else who walks like a duck - share this info with them. Never doubt the power of small changes over time - just knowing what to change is often the trick.
Stay tuned for more info and resources from Body and Spine Solutions in 2019 - like our Facebook page or even follow us on Instagram as we continue to add to our growing list of movement, exercise and health advice.
Body and Spine Solutions