The science is clear: active people suffer from fewer health issues than their inactive counterparts.i So walking should be good for us, right? Well, if done appropriately, walking for exercise can certainly be beneficial. Nevertheless, few people realize that how one walks matters more than distance, speed, or frequency. If you are walking with misaligned posture or an improper gait, the health benefits you receive from the exercise is far outweighed by the damaging effects to your back, neck, and joints.
Walking becomes an “agent of disease” when you repetitively perform inefficient movements. Gait training can help offset this process. These kinetic habits arise from many different circumstances, though aging and injury are among those most common. For example, years-old injuries, though no longer painful, have altered joint alignment and mechanics, thus silently contributing to joint inflammation and poor posture. The cumulative results? For starters, arthritis of the knees, hips and spine; tendonitis, bursitis, and neck and lower back pain other spinal disorders such as bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs, stenosis, and pinched nerves.ii Research shows that how you stand on one leg shows the impact that poor posture can have on the efficiency and quality of function of not only your muscles and nerves but your balance, too.iii By diagnosing key postural alignment, we can begin to treat the effects. These medical conditions further contribute to the annual number of seniors’ visits to the hospital. Each year, doctors treat 2.5 million older people in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Additionally, falling (usually sideways) causes more than 95% of hip fractures.iv Only by consciously learning to improve the way we walk can we reduce these figures.
Simply understanding the three-dimensional layout of the body’s component parts does not always accurately demonstrate how those parts interact with each other in real time. Only through gait training can we get true health. It’s true that every part of the body is interconnected, but to understand that interconnectedness and the inefficiencies of movement that inevitably arise as we live our lives, we have to engage proactively with the dynamic relationships between the parts that make up the whole. It is at this point that Integral Human Gait theory comes into play.
Integral Human Gait (IHG) is both a preventative measure and a means by which proper walking patterns can be a driving force for healing and health. It provides a comprehensive map which both explores and restores the dynamic relationship between your joints, muscles, fascia, organs and nerves. IHG theory places particular importance on Counter Rotation—the oppositional movements occurring within collective parts of the skeleton. For instance, understanding how your trunk, pelvis, and shoulders interact with each other can help determine where Counter Rotation will occur in the spine. It is a bold statement to make, but where Counter Rotation occurs will be a deciding factor in determining if your walk is an “agent of health” or an “agent of disease.”
Gait training can help.
If you want to learn more about Integral Human Gait Theory and how your gait affects your health, then come to one of our upcoming can find more information on our Gait for Wild Human Potential Workshop sessions below. To learn more about how Somatics and Integral Human Gait can become your “agent of health,” call us today at 812-344-4119.
Offering up to 20* continuing ed. hours for: – Physical Therapists – Occupational Therapists – Feldenkrais® Practitioners (see Guild policy) – Massage & Body Work through NCBTMB – Personal Trainers through ACE. For questions about these workshops, use the emails listed for the contacts.
Check out our latest video that visually highlights how the rib angles and pelvis counter-rotate with the shoulder girdle to prevent further damage to the lower back and hips:
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.