The Science of Walking: How Foot Mechanics Impact Your Health

Today we delve into the relationship between walking and health, with a specific focus on foot mechanics and how crucial they are. The impact walking has on your overall health is something most people don’t think about in their day-to-day life. But foot motion science suggests everyone should learn about this topic! 

When your walking pattern is compromised, even slightly, it can put you at risk of developing foot pain, in addition to heel and ankle pain, back pain, knee pain and even hip pain! This can wreak havoc on your overall life as you experience worsening discomfort. Let’s explore more about the connection between your walking pattern and overall health! 

The Connection Between Walking and Overall Health

To start, here are some basic tidbits of info to remember:

  • The scientific term for “walking pattern” is gait.
  • There is an inverse relationship between musculoskeletal foot conditions and your gait. Foot issues can lead to gait abnormalities as you try to accommodate new pain while still getting to the places you need to go. However, abnormal walking patterns can also put you at risk of developing additional problems. 

Common Types of Gait Abnormalities and How They Affect Our Health

Two gait abnormalities we see a lot at Feet First Clinic are overpronation and supination

Overpronation is synonymous with flat feet and the resultant issues that develop when you have a flat/fallen arch. When you “overpronate,” your foot rolls inward excessively as you stride forward. Supination is when you place too much weight on the outside of your feet. These walking patterns are often subconscious and your way of trying to adjust to having “non-typical” feet. 

Gait abnormalities can completely mess with your lower extremities. In more scientific words, they affect your feet and ankles and lead to misalignments in the lower body, which may contribute to issues such as knee pain, hip discomfort, and lower back problems. This is because your body’s skeletal system is connected and everything must work in harmony. You are also more prone to injury when you overpronate!

Lastly, there are many specific versions of gait abnormalities. One may not overpronate or supinate, but different types of pain can result in various compensatory movements. Check out this valuable resource from Stanford Medicine for more.

Treating Abnormal Walking Patterns

Don’t worry if you think you may have a gait abnormality. Unless your walking pattern is caused by a severe medical issue, you can often work hard at correcting it. There are many services, medical devices, and products you can try. 

  • Foot assessment: Understanding your feet is the first step (no pun intended!). 
  • Video gait analysis: This will provide valuable insights into biomechanical issues, your foot type, and any noticeable abnormalities. 
  • Custom-made orthotics: Orthotics work by improving your gait, over time, and with correct usage. 
  • Strengthening and balance exercises: These improve muscle strength, coordination, and stability. 
  • Surgical interventions (in severe cases of foot deformities, for instance, bunion correction). 
  • Footwear modifications: Medical shoes and stability/motion control shoes can often help. 
  • Focusing on your posture: This helps properly align the body’s skeletal structure. Remember: everything is connected, from head to toe!

Address Your Walking Concerns Today!

At Feet First Clinic, we may be able to improve your walking pattern with our various modern and effective services! We will also help you determine what conditions you may be at risk of developing, and what you can do! Book an appointment online todayor call us at (416) 769-3338!

Banner image by drrobotdean on FreePik!

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.