Do you ever notice how people walk while you are at the mall? Some people have a different walking pattern. Some walk like penguins, some walk with a huge arm swinging like they are fighting someone, and some are unable to bend their joints. It is obvious that there are different movement in people’s walking. Some are caused by injuries, body structure and or level of fitness.
Most people think that if they can walk or run so they are functionally doing fine. Yes, you can run, but you cannot hide from your problems in your gait. These type of dysfunctional running and walking creates an impact to all of your joints resulting in instability, eventual degeneration, and arthritis. When people think they can still walk, just wait. One little impact can force you into possible surgery or permanent disability. Too many people wait until the last minute to correct their problems and by then it is already too late.
Before it is too late, there is an assessment tool called “Gait Analysis”. In the scientific study of Gait analysis, they dissect the motion from the step off to arm swinging. Firstly, to understand it, what is Gait analysis?
Gait Analysis: A Scientific Study
Gait analysis is the systematic study of human motion, using the eye and the brain of observers, measuring body movements, body mechanics, and the activity of the muscles.
The parameters taken into account for the Gait analysis are as follows:
- Step Length
- Stride Length
- Dynamic Base
- Progression Line
- Foot Angle
- Hip Angle
- Squat Performance
The Gait analysis is modulated or modified by many factors, and changes in the normal gait pattern can be transient or permanent. The factors can be of various types:
- Extrinsic: such as terrain, footwear, clothing, cargo
- Intrinsic: sex (male or female), weight, height, age, etc.
- Physical: such as weight, height, physique
- Psychological: personality type, emotions
- Physiological: anthropometric characteristics, i.e., measurements and proportions of body
- Pathological: for example trauma, neurological diseases, musculoskeletal anomalies, psychiatric disorders
Chiropractic Analysis of Gait:
This gait analysis gives much detailed information about a person’s functional capacity to survive. There are many healthcare professions that use this analysis to diagnose health conditions and disorders. For Chiropractors, it is a topic of objective assessment that yields almost immediate results in their chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic Observation of Gait Analysis:
During walking/running, there is an effect of gravity where your body weight the musculoskeletal structures to keep your body upright. After wear and tear from minor to major injuries our bodies and our proper mechanics change. The impact of the body weight and gravity, eventually force those into our gait.
Without consciously thinking about changing the gait, we walk or run with the assumption that everything is functionally good unless there is enough a dramatic injury that causes us to have difficulty walking. Take limping for example. As well as a chiropractor, we realize these gait mechanisms are crucial and are a matter of survival to walk or run as well as be able to go to place to place.
For chiropractors, watching the dynamics of walking/running shows the functionality of the spine and joints that are working in unison. There should be good elasticity and recoil in each stride from all the extremities so that the motion of our walking/running is forward instead of wasting energy by unnecessary movements.
We all walk to places and the more mobile we are the healthier we are. Once people are static and stationary our lives deteriorate significantly. Being able to walk and run helps the circulation and neurological stimulation of the brain. When we are sedentary, our body degenerates and atrophies and our ability to survive is gone. For our survival, walking and running is an important factor in our lives. Our body is made to enjoy and live life instead of surviving life.
There are two major factors that will catch your attention. It is the acceleration of degeneration of your joints and neurological degeneration.
Acceleration of Degeneration
For those who have bombarded their joints with so much impact, the joint tends to wear down faster. After wearing down the joints, eventually, the bone on bone starts to grind on each other causing osteoarthritis. People who can have this can be as young as a teenager an elderly depending on how they stress their body. Some people will ruin their body with extreme sports and improper body mechanics in their athletic training.
The improper mechanics begins when joints are injured and become unstable. When this unstable joint is not taken care of and properly stabilized, the impact of the joint will cause further damage and eventual because of bone deformation. The constant impact of wear and tear eventually will change the joints and further bone degeneration. Most often times the joints become very loose after stretching of the muscle tendons and ligaments which it is termed “hypermobile.” When the joint is having muscle spasm and increased edema it will be stiff, and be termed “hypermobile”. These damaged joints initially start with many clicks and cracks into the joint.
The cracking in the joint happens because it is the body’s way to create a balance (based on gravity) and to create motion where the usual mechanics are changed. (Please do not think that inducing cracking of the joint will help alleviate the problem because it may worsen the joint mechanics even more) By analyzing an individuals gait, joint mechanics are quickly investigated to identify where these audible cracks and clicks are coming from. Most often times it is the muscles grinding of other muscle or bones because of the joint instability. The best way to avoid bone degeneration is to create a smooth transition of arm and leg swing that will not create improper impact in each step. Consequently, the brain will not have additional pain signals coming from our joints.
Our joints use nerve receptors called proprioceptors to send information of orientation in space while you are in dynamic motion or static stand still. Having good joint alignment helps the body in proper body mechanics and proper neuro-physiology that influence our body chemistry. If any of these receptors are shut down nociceptors send pain signals instead.
Nociception is the sensory nervous system’s response to certain harmful or potentially harmful stimuli. In nociception, mechanical (e.g., cutting, crushing) stimulation of sensory nerve cells (nociceptors) produces a signals that travel along a chain of nerve fibers via the spinal cord and brain. Nociception triggers a variety of biological and behavioral responses and may also result in a subjective experience of pain.
Nociceptors are found in the skin, on internal surfaces such as the periosteum, joint surfaces, and in some internal organs. The concentration of nociceptors varies throughout the body; they are found in greater numbers in the skin than in deep internal surfaces such as muscle, joint, skin, cornea, bladder, gut, dorsal root ganglia and trigeminal neuralgia. Mechanical nociceptors respond to excess pressure or mechanical deformation.
Once these nociceptors are over stimulated they start to cause overstimulation in the spinal cord and brain. The chronic pain, for most individuals, causes sedentary lifestyle. They are not able to exercise or end up with little to no motion. Eventual atrophy of muscles and nerve will be an indirect result of overstimulation of the pains signals from mechanical deformation or degeneration.
You can run but you can’t hide.
Many people think that they are healthy and walking by running, but in some causes difficulty in gait may be evident. Once our joints are having mechanical problems, there are spasms and adhesion in the joints. When there are less recoil and motion in a joint the muscles atrophy and bones degenerate. Once they overstimulate the nerves with pain, eventual sedentary lifestyle progresses. Less motion in the joints means fewer nutrients going to all the muscles and joints and eventual degeneration of the nerve, muscle, and bone follows.
Just because you think you can move with walking or run, it doesn’t mean you are in an optimal, functional state. The eventual degeneration is apparent with a trained person’s clinical observation of an individual and walking, running patterns. This is also apparent in any athletic activities.
At our office, we every possible way to observe the problem so that we can be as specific as possible with the chiropractic adjustment. Not only gait but also x-rays, neurological examinations, and taking oral history. If any of you would like to address their problems, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.