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Walking and Posture

Walking and Posture

People walking

The act of walking is a complex interrelationship of muscles, joints, and nerve activity that is constantly changing and redefining itself with every step taken. Walking should occur without too much controlling of the process. If we attempt to force or direct movement we take away our natural walking pattern and can impose poor posture habits, which can affect our long-term wellbeing.

When considering how we walk, look at the movement of the pelvis and its relationship to the lower extremity (leg). While the legs offer forward and backward movement in walking, the pelvis has to firstly place the hip over the leg, then provide proper placement for the other leg to move through and forward.

Swing Phase and Stance Phase

Walking is structured around two distinct phases of movement. — The Swing phase and the Stance phase. One leg follows the other through the phases in a neat procession to become the cumulative process we know as walking.

Man walking

Swing Phase of Walking

The swing phase covers the distance by pushing off the ground and moving through until the heel (Calcaneus) of the foot touches the ground again.

In the Swing phase, the knee and hip flex (or bend), while the foot dorsi flexes (foot and toes move upwards towards the sky). As the lower extremity lifts to move us forward, muscles along the front and back of the leg and the deep lower abdomen work to generate the required movement. Muscles of the inner thigh follow this as t he knee straightens and the heel moves towards touching the ground.

Stance Phase of Walking

The stance phase provides the support and weight-bearing ability as the weight of the body is transmitted down through the lower extremity to the ground.

In the Stance phase, while the opposite leg is swinging forward, the standing leg stabilises the pelvis, primarily, with the muscle Gluteus Medius. This acts to stop the opposite side of the pelvis from dropping sideways. If there were weakness or no muscle support at the pelvis the hip would tilt completely to the opposite side when walking.

What should I be looking for when walking?