“Sagging Pants”: A different kind Self-Inflicted of Gait Pathology.

We have been absolutely dying to do a blog post on “sagging” pants for years but we just couldn’t find video that sufficiently provided the visuals we required to go into depth on the pathology it drives into one’s gait. Both of us at The Gait Guys knew we would never live it down if we actually did this walk ourselves (plus we realized we didn’t have the required jeans) so we waited for the perfect video(s).  Well folks, today is your lucky day because we found what we are looking for (there is a second video link down below but please read on before you look at it so you can understand what you are seeing).

Today we start this blog post with a classic video example of what “sagging pants” gait looks like. This poor fella is either having some real difficulties or he is taking it to the next level (and if so, good on him !) You know what we are referring to, the culturally proclaimed cool style of wearing your pants down around your upper thighs with your junk barely kept in the trunk.  But there is more to this gait than you might think and there is a reason why we have wanted to so badly present this gait to you. The reason is because, well, it is darn right entertaining to watch, but more so because it creates a very unique variant of the classic Abductor gait.  in order to keep one’s pants up, and from falling down to one’s ankles, one must abduct the thighs and legs to push out into the waist of the pants to keep the pressure constant and keep the pants up.  But wait, there is soooo much more than just that.  This gait throws off:

  • the normal stance and swing phases
  • impairs the normal gait rhythm
  • clearly impairs arm swing (and this video above is interesting because it so very nicely shows in the video that the more the legs abduct the more the arms abduct on the contralateral side. More proof to all you runners out there who are trying to coach a new arm swing, you must realize that a huge part of arm swing is predicated on what is happening in the contralateral lower limb.  Perhaps a unique addition to the “crossed extensor response” for all you neuro geeks out there !).  So before you try to change a runner’s arm swing you better assess the lower limbs, they likely have reasons as to why they are doing what they are doing. Once again, proof that what you see is not the problem and what you see is not necessarily what needs corrected.
  • causes and abduction of the feet and legs (perhaps this should be mandatory therapy to reduce all runner “cross over gaits” ?  Can we bill insurance for that ?). This is one reason why we love “monster walks” with an ankle theraband loop as ONE way to train less cross over neuropatterning. This is not to be confused with the more medically classic “abduction gait” pathologic gait pattern.
  • lessens the normal pelvic obliquity of the pelvis (ie. when the right leg is behind and in full hip extension just prior to push off phase of gait, the pelvis is obliqued posteriorly).  Remember that the initiation of the swing phase is initially brought on by the reduction of the obliquity by abdominal contraction to pull the pelvis forward (during opposite leg stance/support phase) and then the psoas (ipsilaterally/swing side) becomes a swing phase perpetuator. The psoas is not a swing phase initiator, it is a perpetuator.
  • impairs hip extension, and thus will cause gluteal atrophy in time (oh gosh, combined pathology now!)
  • impairs terminal swing phase of gait
  • recruits pathologic gait patterns
  • impairs one’s ability to run from the cops, your girlfriend’s father who might have a shotgun, a guard dog, a nasty bout of diarrhea and finding a toilet, or if you are late to catch the morning bus)

This may be the silliest, self-chosen, and self-consciously acquired, pathologic gait pattern ever.  But it is none the less really entertaining to watch as the main video shows. 

Now, here (link) is a better video showing the pathologic problems we itemized above.  Look closely in this video you will see that in order for this gait style to “Work” (if that is what you call it) the pants have to be riding up higher in the front around the front of the thighs.  And to do this one has to tip into a slight posterior pelvic tilt most likely driven by the glutes and create a slight constant flexion of the knees (which also further impairs hip extension and gluteal recruitment). This will cause overactivity of the glutes and eventual shortening of them. We wonder how many of these fellas have developed piriformis syndrome radiculopathy ? 



For the love of all things sane and wise…….. please pull up your pants if you are doing this…….we can’t fix everyone’s gait on the face of the earth but we certainly do not need folks intentionally screwing up their gait just to show off your hot underwear ? Wouldn’t it be more proper just to ask someone if they want to see your hot new Calvin Klein’s ?.  On a positive note, showing off your undies in this Sagging Pants manner will improve hygiene, if you know what we mean.

Shawn and Ivo, Sagging our pants regularly, but only in the privacy of our own homes, and we suggest you keep it there as well.