John Travolta’s Pathologic Gait “Strut”. One of the most memorable Hollywood gait patterns of all time !
First thing you must notice right away, even from the head shot as he exits the door, is the up and down head bob. We will get back to this most important part in #2 below and keep you in suspense.
Another thing you will see is that he has no arm swing, particularly on the right. He also is over pronated in his upper limbs which is what gives him the “kucxkles forward” primate-type hand position but that is not his fault we would guess, men typically have little skill in higher heeled footwear, in this case a cowboy-style boot (we are trying to give him a manly excuse, the men’s higher heeled nightlife footwear of the 1970’s wasn’t exactly manly in our opinion). Those things are hard enough walking in let alone what Travolta did in them on the dance floor. Our point here, most men are not used to the drop down onto the forefoot that comes from the initial heel strike on a higher heeled shoes. Men are not usually used to walking in such high heeled shoes, and so we do not realize that we have to dampen our instinct to heel strike. In these cases men have difficulty with two things:
1). with each successive step, again stepping back up onto the heeled shoe after just descending down onto the lower forefoot from the previous step is a challenge. In this video we see some of his strategy. If you watch closely you will see that the abnormal “knuckles forward” posturing of his upper limbs allows him to most likely get his pectorals and triceps more in to the posterior propulsive swing phase action in a manner of “pulling himself up and thrusting forward with each step”.
2), this is a continuation of #1 and what we were hinting at first off …… you see a abrupt up and down movement of his head in his initial exit from the doors of the club. This is once again a product of the higher heeled shoes-boots. Travolta is obviously a sufferer of anterior shin splints. After each heel strike he drops abruptly onto the forefoot with each step. This cycle is repeated and is synchronous and it is what gives the up and down head movement. It is what also gives him his “Strut”. He likely suffered with terrible anterior shin splints in this movie as a result of this. This is the type of gait you will see in young ladies new to high heeled shoes.
If one insists on choosing this footwear, this Up and Down oscillation strut can be mediated by:
1) shortening ones step
2) ensuring that the forward foot contact is met with as little difference between heel strike and forefoot load, meaning, that the wearer must move the foot forward in relative plantarflexion essentially always trying to stay on one’s forefoot, essentially trying to avoid heel strike as much as possible. Watch any woman skilled in high heel shoes, you will see this pattern. It is easier to stay plantarflexed and on the forefoot rather than suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous gait misfortune, that being clear heel striking and devastating your anterior compartment shin splint muscles and toe extensors.
Regardless, Travolta is still the man ……. on the dance floor or strutting down the streets of NYC in high heeled shoes or not. Don’t believe us men ? …… then head off to yo momma’s (or wife’s) closet and give it a shot …… we dare ya !
We remain, shockingly knowledgeable about high heels shoe biomechanics……. and pleading the 5th as to how we know this stuff .
…… we are both Staying Alive and Jive Talking, and still the undisputed heavyweight champs of all things gait. We are……
Shawn and Ivo …….. The Gait Guys