Walking Funny? Here Are a Couple of Reasons WhyJuly 5th, 2016 by mariska
(photo from Pilates Anytime – Wobbly: A Balance workshop)
If you’ve taken a workshop with me, you have probably heard me wax poetic on the importance of strengthening the gluteus medius (glute med). In the neurological as well as the normal populations, weakness here is one of the main problems in walking. In my Balance Tutorial on Pilates Anytime, I have Kaita doing sit to stand exercises while holding the magic circle on the outside of her legs. Why? Because to keep from dropping it, she has to fire (i.e. – strengthen) the outer hip muscles (glute med being the biggie).
When you walk, you have to keep your balance moving over repeated single-leg stances and a changing center of gravity. Your ankle and hip stability are key in making this happen. Weakness in one or both of these areas will definitely lead to some weird gait problems.
There are several common gait abnormalities seen in neurological conditions. In circumduction gait, one leg swings around, usually to compensate for foot drop. The opposite hip will usually dip out to the side and become unstable. In Trendelenburg gait, one hip is unstable and dips inward. Both the inward and outward movement of the hip indicate its instability and a weakness of, you guessed it, the glute med.
Beyond my favorite muscle, also look for weakness in the hip extensors, tightness in the hip flexors, and tightness in the calf muscles. All of these can be culprits in gait problems. And fortunately, in most cases, all of these problems can be aided with the right exercise!