The glutes medius is playing target practice.

Screen Shot 2019-07-03 at 9.36.06 AM.png

We think about the gluteus medius often, mostly, during stance phases of locomotion. But, do not forget about the absolutely necessary function of the gluteus medius on the swing limb. Foot placement of that swing leg is in part dictated by how well the pendulum leg receives gluteus medius control to abduct the leg. When it fails to abduct adequately, a more adducted/medial foot placement occurs (think deeply about our long posts and podcast rants on the cross over gait, the narrow based walking and running gait style).
An agreeable balance between the abductors and adductors affords a more pure forward saggital pendulum of the hinging leg. When imbalanced, from insufficient gmedius and the rest of the abductory team, the foot and leg can target a more medial pendulum swing and thus a more medial foot target placement. Thus, the gluteus medius is important in both the stance and swing phases of gait. Failure to develop the skill, endurance and strength of the gluteus medius and related complex of muscles during stance AND swing phases will often result in frontal plane pelvis drift on the stance limb, and adduction targeting of the foot (narrow step width). What is this called ? We call it the Cross Over gait and we have written oodles of articles about this gait phenomenon, more than anyone else. It is real, it has economical advantages and similar liabilities. Want to learn more, type it into the SEARCH box on our website-blog. Many people thinkn this is a normal gait, how we should all walk and run. And they are wrong, in part. Like most things, it has a place, but not a permanent place. We think like most things in this world, there is a benefit and a drawback to things, and it is how you use it, as long as you read the instructions. Sadly, we were never given a "users manual" when we were born, so we all did what felt natural and safe. It doesn't mean it was right.


-Dr. Shawn Allen

For our Patreon patrons:
read and digest this post again before i film a video of a critical exercise we use to train the gluteus medius in BOTH PHASES ! All to often people just train the glute medius in the stance phase, and that is critical, but the swing phase is just as critical ! And this exercise i will film and post up on Patreon in the next 24 hours or so will help with this swing phase, but stance phase too. Be sure, when you study the video, that you do not get bogged down in what the exercise looks like. That is the easy part. For you to train yourself and your client, there MUST be a deep understanding of the specifics of the exercise. You have likely seen versions of this exercise other places, but it is the how and the why, and not getting sloppy with it, that is the key factor.

Photo: this came in an old box of Altra shoes, a brochure. We love Altras, they aren't for everyone, but if you are looking for a lower heel drop shoes with a wide toe box, try out a pair !

When runner do you want to be? 2 photos

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Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 9.29.44 AM.png

Who do you want to be ? The guy loading his head over his foot
(narrow step width), or the gal loading the head and COM inside the foot (less narrow step width) ?

It is not hard to suspect who is gonna be faster and more powerful from these photos. This however does not mean on is more durable, more or less injured, more or less efficient but logical debates and thought experiments can be made here.

The lady is stacking the knee over the foot, the hip over the knee and stabilizing the hip and pelvis sufficiently and durably to keep the pelvis level for the next powerful loading step, and the other is flexion collapsing into the stance phase knee, insufficiently loading the hip and thus dropping the opposite side pelvis. He is not stacking the joints, there is a pending cross over (look at the swing leg knee approaching midline with barely any knee spacing, thus guaranteeing a cross over step or at the very least a very narrow step width.)
Sure, some one is going to say one is a distance runner and the other is a sprinter. Yes, and our point is that the sprinter is not head-over-foot, the one with all the highly suspect flaws is head over foot ! Wider step width means more glutes. Go ahead, walk around right now with a very narrow step width and see how little efficient glute contraction you get, then walk with a notably wider step width, and you will see wider means more glutes. Keep your COM moving forward, not oscillating back and forth sideways over each stance foot, that is a power leak.

The distance runner appears to be demonstrating less optimal in technique, appears is the key word here. Say what you want, but a decent argument might be made as to one of these runners being weak and very likely at greater risk for injury, the other is suspect to be strong and durable, and likely at less risk for injury.
If you ask us, but what do we know . . . . it is all a thought experiment, but based on some pretty decent ideas.
So, again, was ask . . . . which one do you want to be ?

House MD. : Is he using his cane on the correct side ?

House MD. : Is he using his cane on the correct side ? (hint: vascular infarct to the quadriceps muscle)

*disclaimer: Note to listeners…. there is controversy over the lyrics, there always has been and always will be …..but they are listed below at the end of the post.)

When can you ever go wrong with AC/DC ? Combine that with Hugh Laurie from HOUSE MD and you have a great mix.

So, watching this video, why is he using his cane incorrectly? We all know that House’s has a problem with the right hip and leg. “The Rules” state that with a hip problem the cane should always be used on the opposite side to change the D2 lever arm (great lesson on this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLFQOKVO6X4&feature=youtu.be). After watching this Gait Guys videos you will clearly understand (perhaps to a better level than most of your therapists and doctors who gave you the cane) why it is used on the opposite side.

So, why in the world is the brilliant Dr. House using it on the same side ? We have received this question more than once. And the answer is quite simple. His problem is likely extracapsular. In the pilot episode of House MD it was explained that he suffered a vascular infarct to the quadriceps muscle. Like bone infarcts, muscular infarcts can be painful. If he contracts the quadriceps when loading the leg there will be pain. Just like if the infarct were osseous, the loading of the cortical bone and stress on the trabecular infrastructure in that case, axial loading of the limb (muscular or osseous) will drive pain. So, to lessen the issue he uses the cane on the same side to literally share his body mass load over the length of the cane and splinting of his body mass through that right arm and the cane. He is essentially attempting to use the cane as his weight bearing limb, same as if using crutches. The cane use on the opposite side is best used when you are attempting to unload the muscular compressive forces across the hip (acetabulofemoral) joint. Contraction of the gluteus medius generates the greatest joint compressive loading of all of the hip muscles because of its orientation during gait. Thus, utilizing the cane on the opposite side acts as a hydraulic lift necessitating a shift in body mass closer to the joint and reducing the compressive demands on the gluteus medius muscle.

* Rule breaker: sure, you can still use the cane on the same side to reduce the gluteus medius forces, it is just a bit more awkward and arguably less efficient from a physics persective. But it can be done. Think about and elderly folk who had a weaker opposite arm, they would feel more comfortable using House’s strategy. The rules are not hard pressed.

* So, House is using the cane correctly for his condition. Of course, he is no dummy !

Rules are meant to be broken. When you are as smart as House you know when to break the rules.

Thanks for the reminder AC/DC ……lyrics

https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/17823193087/house-md-is-he-using-his-cane-on-the-correct?fbclid=IwAR1pAHFxhByiSr1orgIKIkOqwj9W1F-dd-4jQ8BEPntlEztgrolwrT60mos

“Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Hey Momma, look at me

The “Dodgy Foot”, a UK runner’s dilemma.

We get “help me” emails from all over the world on a regular basis. Recently we received this photo from a runner in Oxford, UK, The runner was frustrated, explaining a “dodgy foot”. We like the word.

We can guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot which appears “in toed” and slanted and appears ready to kick the back of the right heel, not to mention the knees that are about to brush together. Thus, merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.

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Ivo and I do not take on cases via the internet because we cannot give all the information because we cannot examine the client, many do offer such services but people are not being given the whole story and we pledged long ago not to be part of the problem. Anyone who recommends exercises from things they see on a video gait analysis are basically doing the same disservice in our opinion. But sometimes, as in this case, their inquiry is simple, there is a photo or video and it allows us to highlight an important component of an individuals gait which can lead them on a road to appropriate discovery. This is one of those cases. I will not be presenting a solution, because I do not have the examination information I need, but I will propose a solid thought process that further investigation may afford progress towards resolution.

This is a non-pathologic cross over gait in my mind until proven otherwise, there may be other sources, causes and components, but when it quacks like a duck you’d be silly not to check for webbed feet. This runner even confirmed upon questioning that the left foot scuffs the inside of the right ankle/shin often, both sides scuff in fact but more left shoe on right shin. No Einsteinian epiphany there. After all, the thigh adduction on the left is what gives the foot posturing appearance, but it is likely driven by poor stabilization on the stance side leg (the right):

This means a narrow swing through (adducting) left limb.
This means stance and swing phase gluteus medius communication problems.
This means swing leg foot targeting problems.
This often suggests right, but sometimes both right and left, frontal plane pelvis sway problems which means pelvis control is challenged which means core lumbar stability control is challenged.
This means adaptive arm swing changes from the clean norm.
This does NOT mean this runner has pain, or pain yet, or maybe never will have pain but there are many determinants of that which I will discuss below.

But, make no mistake, this is flawed gait mechanics. The left swing leg is clearly targeting a more medial placement, meaning limb adduction (active or passive or both is to be determined) and this is a product of the cross over gait (unfamiliar with the cross over gait ? SEARCH our blog for the term, you will need a few hours of free time to get through it all). Some would call the cross over gait a lazy gait, but I would rather term it an efficient gait taken too far that it has now become a liability, a liability in which they can no longer stabilize frontal plane sway/drift. A wider gait on the other hand, as in most sprinters, is less efficient but may procure more power and the wider base is more stable affording less frontal plane drift. Just go walk around your home and move from a very narrow line walking gait to a wide gait and you will feel a more powerful engagement of the glutes. Mind you, this is not a fix for cross over gaits, gosh, if it was only that simple !

This runner must investigate whether there is right frontal plane drift, and if it is in fact occurring, find the source of the drift. It can come from many places on either limb. (This client says they are scuffing both inside ankles, which is not atypical and so we likely have drift on both right and left). We have discussed many of them here in various places on the blog over the years. Now as for “Why” the foot looks in toed, well that can also come from many places. Quite simply the adducted limb once it leaves toe off can look like this. But, perhaps it is also a product of insufficient external rotation maintenance occurred during that left stance phase, affording more internal rotation which is being unchecked and observed here during early swing. Remember though, if this is in fact a cross over gait result, in this gait the limb approaches the ground unstacked (foot is too far inside a left hip joint plumb line) the foot will greet the ground at a far lateral strike and in supination. Pronation will thus be magnified and accelerated, if there is enough time before toe off. However, and you can try this on your own by walking around your home, put yourself in terminal stance at toe off. Make sure you have the foot inverted so you are toeing off the lateral toes (low gear toe off). Does this foot not look like the one in the photo ? Yes it does, now just lift the foot off the ground and you have reproduced this photo. And when combined with a right pelvis drift, the foot will sneak further medially appearing postured behind the right foot.

Keep this in mind as well, final pronation and efficient hallux (big toe) toe off does often not occur in someone who strikes the ground on a far lateral foot. I am sure this runner will now be aware of how poorly they toe off of the big toe, the hallux. They will tend to progress towards low gear toe off, off the lesser toes. This leaves the foot inverted and this is what you are seeing in her the photo above. That is a foot that is inverted and supinated and it carried through all the way through toe off and into early swing. It is a frequently component of the cross over gait, look for it, you will find it, often.

Final thoughts, certainly this can be an isolated left swing phase gluteus medius weakness enabling an adducted swing limb thus procuring a faulty medial foot placement, but it is still part of the cross over phenomenon. Most things when it comes to a linked human frame do not work in isolation. But i will leave you with a complicating factor and hopefully you will realize that gait analysis truly does require a physical exam, and without it you could be missing the big picture problem. What if she has a notable fixed anatomic internal tibia torsion on that left side. Yup, it could all be that simple, and that is not something you can fix, you learn to manage that one as a runner.

* Side bar rant: Look at any google search of runners photos and you will see this type of swing limb foot posturing often, far too often. And yes, you can take the stance that “I do it as well and i have no injuries or problems so what is the big deal?”. Our response is often “you do have an issue, it may be anatomic or functional, but you do have an asymmetrical gait and you think it is not a problem, YET”. And maybe you will run till you are 6 feet under and not have a problem because you have accomodated over many years and you are a great compensator, yes, some people get lucky. Some people also do not run enough miles that these issues express themselves clinically so lets be fair. But some of these people are reality deniers and spend their life buying the newest brace or gadget, trying a different shoe insert, orthotic or new shoe of the month and shop over and over again for another video gait analysis expert who can actually fix their pain or problem. And then there are those who have a 45 minute home exercise program that they need to do to keep their problems at bay, managing, not fixing anything. Or, they spend an hour a week on the web reading article after article on what are the top 4 exercises for iliotibial band syndrome for example. They shop for the newest Graston practitioner, the newest kinesio taping pattern, Voodoo bands, breathing patterns, compression socks etc. And sometimes they are the ones that say they still dont have a problem.You get the drift. Gosh darn it, find someone who knows what the hell they are doing and can help you fix the issues that are causing the problem. And yes, some of the above accoutrements may be assistive in that journey.

I have dealt with this unique toe off issue way too many times not to roll my eyes at it any longer. It is to the point that it is an automated evaluation and solution program that begins to run in my head. Once you see something enough times, you learn all of the variations and subtle nuiances that a problem can take on. But, trying to fit everyone into a similar solution model is where the novice coach, trainer or clinician will get into trouble. Trust us, it all starts with an examination, a true clinical physical examination. If one leaves the investigatory process to a series of screens or functional movement patterns, “activation” attempts, digital gait analysis or strength tests one is juggling chainsaws and the outcome you want is often not likely to occur. There is nothing wrong with making these components part of the investigation process, but on their own, they are not enough to get the honest answer many times. Of course, Ivo and i were not able to jump the pond and examine this runner with our own eyes and hands so today’s dialogue was merely to offer this runner some food for thought to open their mind to our thought process, in the hopes that they can find someone to help them solve the underlying problem and not merely make the gait look cleaner. Making someone’s walking or running gait look cleaner is not hard, but making it subconsciously competent and clean (without thought or effort) requires a fix to the underlying problem. We can ALMOST guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot that looks in toed and slanted. Merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Is this a gluteus medius foot targeting problem in swing phase or is this a loss of internal hip rotation? Or . . . .

Is this a gluteus medius foot targeting problem in swing phase or is this a loss of internal hip rotation? Or . . . .

You have to examine your client to know what to treat, a gait analysis or a series of screens is not enough. The saying "an exercise is a test and a test is an exercise" has some sharp edges around it. A screen doesn't tell you what exercise a client necessarily needs or should be prescribed.
This stuff really does matter.
What you see is not the problem , it is their compensatory strategy in coping with a problem. When someone has a pebble in their shoe and they walk on the outside edge of their shoe to avoid the pebble the solution is not to tell them to stop walking on the outside of the shoe, the solution is the de-pebble the shoe. Corrective exercises can be a similar path to this pebble analogy. One must look deeper and beyond what we see in our clients, we merely see how they have adapted, not the problem. A Trendelenburg leaning gait is not met with a solution to prescribe a corrective exercise to correct the lean, the solution is to see why the client is reducing the compressive loading across the hip. Stop giving corrective exercises if you are not examining your client. Yes, that means you need to have hands on diagnostic skills. Sorry.

Loading the wrong pattern drives a compensation, and maybe another problem or a compensation to the compensation deeper.

Loading the pattern that is corrective, the one that solves the deficit leading to the gait you see should be your target. Corrective exercises are supposed to be corrective to the problem, not to the gait aberation you see. Without the exam to solidify proper path, corrective exercises often are directed at the things we see, not the aberation that drove what we see. Be part of your clients solution.
If you aren't examining your client, you don't know for certain what you are actually doing.

This is me, Dr. Allen, i am walking in a matter to prove my point.
Do i have a loss of right internal hip rotation (thus the externally rotated limb?). Do i have a swing leg gluteus medius weakness that is allowing me to adduct the limb rendering a mere foot targeting problem? Do i have weak peronei ? A weak glute max ? A right frontal plane drift that i am avoiding by turning my leg out so i can use my quads to help the deficient glutes better block the frontal plane drift ? I could go on an on as to possible causes.
Or do i merely have a pebble in my shoe?
Mic drop.

To give a corrective exercise you have to know what is wrong. That means you have to have the knowledge and the hands on skills to diagnose the "why". So you can prescribe the correct "how".

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

The gluteus medius is playing target practice.

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 1.57.58 PM.png

We think about the gluteus medius often, mostly, during stance phases of locomotion. But, do not forget about the absolutely necessary function of the gluteus medius on the swing limb. Foot placement of that swing leg is in part dictated by how well the pendulum leg receives gluteus medius control to abduct the leg. When it fails to abduct adequately, a more adducted/medial foot placement occurs. An agreeable balance between the abductors and adductors affords a more pure forward sagittal pendulum of the hinging leg. When imbalanced, from insufficient gmedius and the rest of the abductory team, the foot and leg can target a more medial pendulum swing and thus a more medial foot target placement. Thus, the gluteus medius is important in both the stance and swing phases of gait. We discussed this in the webinar last night. Failure to develop the skill, endurance and strength of the gluteus medius and related complex of muscles will often result in frontal plane pelvis drift on the stance limb, and adduction targeting of the foot. What is this called ? We call it the Cross Over gait and we have written oodles of articles about this gait phenomenon, more than anyone else we believe. It is real, it has economical advantages and similar liabilities. Want to learn more, type it into the SEARCH box on our website-blog. Many people this is a normal gait, how we should all run. We think like most things in this world, there is a benefit and a drawback to things, and it is how you use it, as long as you read the instructions. Sadly, we were never given our users manual when we were born. That is, in part, what we are trying to do here at . . . . www.thegaitguys.com

Caveat Emptor: Foot placement is a complex thing.

"Understanding why we place a foot where we do can be a choice, eventually a habit, of perceived stability, of compensation and we like to say "it is a sliding scale between liabilities and economy". If you want more running economy, go for a narrow step width, but realize you are wrestling with its underlying liabilities.  The key is, one must have enough durability on the loading response of a narrow step width (cross over gait) to fend off the liabilities to reap the rewards of the improved economy. Forgo this principle, and it is caveat emptor."- Dr. Shawn Allen

Today we wanted to revisit a few topics and start to tie them together so that readers can perhaps more deeply bring the study discussed here today, into a deeper thought process.

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We have discussed the topic of gluteal pain in chronic low back pain clients previously, when the 2015 Cooper article was published ahead of print. Well, it came out in print (Euro Spine J) in 2016 so we wanted to revisit it with some more global thoughts. Those links are below. 
Basically, the article said that people with low back pain often have “Gluteus medius weakness and gluteal muscle tenderness are common symptoms in people with chronic non-specific LBP.”  
 

As we mentioned in our blog post last year, commenting on the "ahead of print" article, "it is often more on the side of pelvic frontal plane drift. The abdominals and spinal stabilizers also often test weak on this same side. We often see compromise of hip rotation stability as well because , since the hip is relatively adducting (because the pelvis is undergoing repeated frontal plane drift, hence no hip abduction) there is often a component of cross over gait phenomenon which can threaten rotation stability of the lower limb (type “cross over gait” into the search box of our tumblr blog for a landslide of work we have written on that phenomenon)."

This brings to mind this brief (14minute excerpt) from an old podcast we did (#109b, link below) on foot targeting, pelvis frontal plane drift, glute weakness and cross over gait. We brought together several concepts in that 14 minute span and it was on the topic from the Rankin article (link below).

If one is treating clients one must put all these concepts together (one should also have a deep grasp of the principles in this video ). One cannot have tunnel vision, one must embrace the entire picture neuromechanically. Foot targeting, gluteus medius activity, frontal plane pelvis drift or sway, cross over gait parameters, limb torsional issues, foot types and many more must all come into play if you are to truly get to the bottom of your clients problems. The approach must look at the loading and movement patterns at the very least, from foot to pelvis.  We would argue one should not stop there however, take your evaluation all the way into arm swing, thoracopelvic canister stability and more.  
We have pounded sand on the cross over gait and arm swing and the like for almost a decade now. As far as we know, we introduced, and if not, at the very least were the ones that dove deep into the cross over gait and its issues, and all of the attributes and functional pathologic pieces that go with it. We feel that if you fully understand the 40+ articles we have written on the cross over gait and arm and leg swing you will take your client and athlete evaluation to another level.  Understanding unconscious foot targeting is key in our opinion. "Understanding why we place a foot where we do can be a choice, eventually a habit, of perceived stability, of compensation and we like to say "it is a sliding scale between liabilities and economy". If you want more running economy, go for a narrow step width, but realize you are wrestling with its underlying liabilities.  The key is, one must have enough durability on the loading response of a narrow step width (cross over gait) to fend off the liabilities to reap the rewards of the improved economy. Forgo this principle, and it is caveat emptor. "

Shawn & Ivo, the gait guys

https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/149177564774/podcast-109b-shorts-the-gluteus-medius-during

A neuromechanical strategy for mediolateral foot placement in walking humans. Rankin BL
J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jul 15;112(2):374-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.00138.2014. Epub 2014 Apr 30. 

Eur Spine J. 2016 Apr;25(4):1258-65. doi: 10.1007/s00586-015-4027-6. Epub 2015 May 26.
Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls.
Cooper NA1,2, Scavo KM3, Strickland KJ3, Tipayamongkol N3, Nicholson JD4, Bewyer DC4, Sluka KA3.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26006705

A cool paper on taping and reciprocal inhibition.    “Hip extension increased significantly with gluteal taping (p < 0.05) for both walking speeds at late stance phase of walk compared to sham taping and control. The mean absolute difference between gluteal and control conditions for self-selected velocity was 14.2 degrees (95% CI 8.6 to 19.8) whereas the difference between sham and control conditions was 2.0 degrees (95% CI –2.0 to 6.0). Also, for both speeds, step length on the unaffected side increased significantly with gluteal taping compared with either the control or placebo” conditions.     link to full text:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0004951406700629    Aust J Physiother.  2006;52(1):53-6.Gluteal taping improves hip extension during stance phase of walking following stroke. Kilbreath SL ,  Perkins S ,  Crosbie J ,  McConnell J .

A cool paper on taping and reciprocal inhibition. 

“Hip extension increased significantly with gluteal taping (p < 0.05) for both walking speeds at late stance phase of walk compared to sham taping and control. The mean absolute difference between gluteal and control conditions for self-selected velocity was 14.2 degrees (95% CI 8.6 to 19.8) whereas the difference between sham and control conditions was 2.0 degrees (95% CI –2.0 to 6.0). Also, for both speeds, step length on the unaffected side increased significantly with gluteal taping compared with either the control or placebo” conditions. 

link to full text: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0004951406700629

Aust J Physiother. 2006;52(1):53-6.Gluteal taping improves hip extension during stance phase of walking following stroke.Kilbreath SL, Perkins S, Crosbie J, McConnell J.

Podcast 109b “Shorts”: The gluteus medius during swing phase.

A 12 minute talk on what the swing leg does in gait, and what it has to do when we drift the pelvis in the frontal plane over the stance leg.
Ever find yourself kicking your opposite ankle ?  We have answers.
Join us for a rewind of an old 12 minute talk we had on what the glutes do in the swing phase.

Podcast links:

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-109b-shorts-the-swing-phase-use-of-the-gluteus-medius

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_110shortfinal.mp3

Article link:

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jul 15;112(2):374-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.00138.2014. Epub 2014 Apr 30. A neuromechanical strategy for mediolateral foot placement in walking humans.  Rankin BL

Other Gait Guys stuff

B. iTunes link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : www.onlinece.com type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:

-Amazon/Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Pedographs-Gait-Analysis-Clinical-Studies-ebook/dp/B00AC18M3E

-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pedographs-and-gait-analysis-ivo-waerlop-and-shawn-allen/1112754833?ean=9781466953895

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pedographs-and-gait-analysis/id554516085?mt=11

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:
http://bookstore.trafford.com/Products/SKU-000155825/Pedographs-and-Gait-Analysis.aspx

Difficult hip presentations. Coordination of deep hip muscle activity is often altered in symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).   If your clinic is anything like ours, you are regularly seeing failed therapy cases of hip pain walk into your clinic. Many of these cases have been diagnosed clinically or with imaging as FAI (femoral acetabular impingement (syndrome)). FAI can give all kinds of hip pain presentations around the front, side or back of the hip, groin and pelvis, even with referral into the knee. Lets make no mistake, these are difficult cases. The attached study suggests that these often difficult cases are fraught with undefined parameters. These cases can be difficult for us all, particularly if one do not have the clinical examination skills to tease out what muscles are not working, which ones are over working, what has happened to joint centration, how the client loads the hip, what the pelvis posturing attitude is and what motor stabilization strategies are being deployed. Lumbar, pelvis and hip posturing and stabilzation is key in understanding FAI and these often vague and frustrating cases. Determing how the client deploys stacking of the lower limb joints and how they then deploy these strategies in gait and running is paramount to your success in assisting these client cases. This is a deeply multifactorial problem and often why these issues do not get resolved.   Recently I just closed yet another case with a 21 year old female who had FAI and labral tear surgery 2 years ago. She had been told she would always have some pain and never run again. As many of these cases often proceed, after defining all of the issues above, it was clear she had many unaddressed components postoperatively. It appeared many components had not been addressed preoperatively, and had they been addressed, I suspect she may have not needed surgery. These multitudes of dysfunctional components can lead to FAI and labral damage. Many torn labrums do not need surgery, as evidenced by how many clients come out of surgery still having the same pre-operative pain as well as how many improve or resolve by a non-surgical approach to addressing all of the components above.  This study, by Diamond et al compared coordination of deep hip muscles between people with and without symptomatic FAI using analysis of muscle synergies (i.e. patterns of activity of groups of muscles activated in synchrony) during gait. The study utilized intramuscular fine-wire and surface electrodes EMG activity of selected deep and superficial hip muscles.   This study found a significant correlation with the quadratus femoris muscle, one we have repeatedly found problematic over the years. This study was nice to read, it confirmed many of the issues we have found rooted in these often difficult cases. The study surmised that      &ldquo;coordination of deep hip muscles in the synergy related to hip joint control during early swing differed between groups. This phase involves movement towards the impingement position, which has relevance for the interpretation of synergy differences and potential clinical importance. &rdquo;     We strongly refer you back to our  podcast #99  to look into the gluteus medius during swing phase. This is a key component to one’s deeper understanding of how complex the hip works, during both stance and swing. We all tend to get too caught up in stance phase mechanics because that is the one we can see and assess most clearly, however, if one does not understand how vital the gluteus medius is in swing phase limb targeting through the sagittal plane, one is likely missing a big piece of a client’s clinical puzzle. One can do all the dynamic and functional movement and stabilization therapy they wish, but if one does not understand the swing phase mechanics, and perhaps most importantly, if one does not reteach a client how to make the necessary adaptive gait changes to employ the therapeutic work the changes remain on the therapy table and never cross over into functionally using them. The clinician must address the client’s previously deeply rooted gait motor program. A client may have in their bank account the new functional abilities they have been taught, but they likely have not been taught how to deploy them in a new more appropriate gait strategy.   -Dr. Shawn Allen   1. Coordination of deep hip muscle activity is altered in symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement. Laura E Diamond, Wolbert Van den Hoom, Kim L Bennell, Tim V Wrigley, Rana S Hinman, John O&rsquo; Donnell, Paul Hodges  2. J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jul 15;112(2):374-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.00138.2014. Epub 2014 Apr 30. A neuromechanical strategy for mediolateral foot placement in walking humans.  Rankin BL   3. Podcast 99: How foot placement, the glutes and cross over gait all come together and make sense.  4.  https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/133206339519/podcast-99-how-foot-placement-the-glutes-and

Difficult hip presentations. Coordination of deep hip muscle activity is often altered in symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).


If your clinic is anything like ours, you are regularly seeing failed therapy cases of hip pain walk into your clinic. Many of these cases have been diagnosed clinically or with imaging as FAI (femoral acetabular impingement (syndrome)). FAI can give all kinds of hip pain presentations around the front, side or back of the hip, groin and pelvis, even with referral into the knee. Lets make no mistake, these are difficult cases.
The attached study suggests that these often difficult cases are fraught with undefined parameters. These cases can be difficult for us all, particularly if one do not have the clinical examination skills to tease out what muscles are not working, which ones are over working, what has happened to joint centration, how the client loads the hip, what the pelvis posturing attitude is and what motor stabilization strategies are being deployed. Lumbar, pelvis and hip posturing and stabilzation is key in understanding FAI and these often vague and frustrating cases. Determing how the client deploys stacking of the lower limb joints and how they then deploy these strategies in gait and running is paramount to your success in assisting these client cases. This is a deeply multifactorial problem and often why these issues do not get resolved. 

Recently I just closed yet another case with a 21 year old female who had FAI and labral tear surgery 2 years ago. She had been told she would always have some pain and never run again. As many of these cases often proceed, after defining all of the issues above, it was clear she had many unaddressed components postoperatively. It appeared many components had not been addressed preoperatively, and had they been addressed, I suspect she may have not needed surgery. These multitudes of dysfunctional components can lead to FAI and labral damage. Many torn labrums do not need surgery, as evidenced by how many clients come out of surgery still having the same pre-operative pain as well as how many improve or resolve by a non-surgical approach to addressing all of the components above.

This study, by Diamond et al compared coordination of deep hip muscles between people with and without symptomatic FAI using analysis of muscle synergies (i.e. patterns of activity of groups of muscles activated in synchrony) during gait. The study utilized intramuscular fine-wire and surface electrodes EMG activity of selected deep and superficial hip muscles.  
This study found a significant correlation with the quadratus femoris muscle, one we have repeatedly found problematic over the years. This study was nice to read, it confirmed many of the issues we have found rooted in these often difficult cases. The study surmised that 

“coordination of deep hip muscles in the synergy related to hip joint control during early swing differed between groups. This phase involves movement towards the impingement position, which has relevance for the interpretation of synergy differences and potential clinical importance. ”

We strongly refer you back to our podcast #99 to look into the gluteus medius during swing phase. This is a key component to one’s deeper understanding of how complex the hip works, during both stance and swing. We all tend to get too caught up in stance phase mechanics because that is the one we can see and assess most clearly, however, if one does not understand how vital the gluteus medius is in swing phase limb targeting through the sagittal plane, one is likely missing a big piece of a client’s clinical puzzle. One can do all the dynamic and functional movement and stabilization therapy they wish, but if one does not understand the swing phase mechanics, and perhaps most importantly, if one does not reteach a client how to make the necessary adaptive gait changes to employ the therapeutic work the changes remain on the therapy table and never cross over into functionally using them. The clinician must address the client’s previously deeply rooted gait motor program. A client may have in their bank account the new functional abilities they have been taught, but they likely have not been taught how to deploy them in a new more appropriate gait strategy. 

-Dr. Shawn Allen


1. Coordination of deep hip muscle activity is altered in symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement.
Laura E Diamond, Wolbert Van den Hoom, Kim L Bennell, Tim V Wrigley, Rana S Hinman, John O’ Donnell, Paul Hodges

2. J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jul 15;112(2):374-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.00138.2014. Epub 2014 Apr 30. A neuromechanical strategy for mediolateral foot placement in walking humans.  Rankin BL

3. Podcast 99: How foot placement, the glutes and cross over gait all come together and make sense.

4. https://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/133206339519/podcast-99-how-foot-placement-the-glutes-and


tumblr_o2uunml08W1qhko2so2_500.jpg
tumblr_o2uunml08W1qhko2so1_1280.jpg

Leg Pain? Are you SURE its a disc?

Gluteus minimus dysfunction is often present in gait disorders, including stance phase mechanical problems, since it fires from initial contact through pre swing, like it better known counterpart, the gluteus medius. It is interesting that the trigger point referral pattern of the gluteus minimus has a sciatic distribution, whereas the gluteus medius is more in the local area of the hip. 

 There are several, well known effects of dry needling:

decreased central sensitization

increased range of motion

changes in muscle activation

changes in the chemical environment surrounding a trigger point

changes in local and referred pain


and now we can add (not surprisingly), changes in autonomic function. The mechanism probably has something to do with pain and the reticular formation sending information down the cord via the lateral cell column (intermediolateral cell nucleus) or pain (nociceptive) afferents sending a collateral in the spinal cord to the dysfunctional muscle (Dr Ivo talks about these mechanisms in his dry needling and acupuncture lectures). 


Conclusions

The presence of active TrPs within the gluteus minimus muscle among subacute sciatica subjects was confirmed. Every TrPs-positive sciatica patient presented DN related vasodilatation in the area of referred pain. The presence of vasodilatation suggests the involvement of sympathetic nerve activity in myofascial pain pathomechanism.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015; 15: 72. Published online 2015 Mar 20. doi:  10.1186/s12906-015-0587-6PMCID: PMC4426539 Intensive vasodilatation in the sciatic pain area after dry needling

link to full text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4426539/

Heat Exertion and Gait Decline

Changes in gait characteristics are found when exertional heat stress is experienced during prolonged load carriage.  As heat stress increased, step width decreased while percent crossover steps increased. Reduced stance time variability, step width variability, and percent crossover step were observed.  These are frontal plane gait parameters for the most part. 

Think about these things during your long summer run or as you go deeper into those last miles of your long run.  Simple muscular fatigue in the frontal plane hip-pelvis stabilizers are going to render the same results.  This is quite possibly why many problems and injuries crop up in the latter miles of your run. 

Reference:

Gait Posture.

2016 Jan;43:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.10.010. Epub 2015 Oct 23.Using gait parameters to detect fatigue and responses to ice slurry during prolonged load carriage. Tay CSLee JKTeo YSQ Z Foo PTan PMKong PW

Ankle spains and hip abductors

We see it ALL THE TIME. But sometimes it is nice to point out the obvious, just in case you are not looking for it.
“Conclusions: Our subjects with unilateral chronic ankle sprains had weaker hip abduction strength and less plantar-flexion range of motion on the involved sides. Clinicians should consider exercises to increase hip abduction strength when developing rehabilitation programs for patients with ankle sprains.”-Friel et al
Dr. Allen: if the hip abductors are weak, the leg will posture more adducted (ie, cross over type pattern) and this places the foot more directly below the body midline plumb, this will posture the foot in inversion and thus at greater risk for future inversion sprains.  This sets up the vicious cycle of hip abductor weakness, frontal plane drift of pelvis, inversion of the foot and more ankle sprain risks/events.  The cycle must be broken. The hip must be addressed. That lateral chain must be restored all the way up from the foot.  All stuff you likely already know, but good to find another study to validate.

Dr. Allen

J Athl Train. 2006; 41(1): 74–78.PMCID: PMC1421486Ipsilateral Hip Abductor Weakness After Inversion Ankle SprainKaren Friel,Nancy McLean,Christine Myers, and Maria Caceres
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1421486/

How relaxed, or shall we say “sloppy” is your gait ?  Look at this picture, the blurred left swing leg tells you this client has been photographed during gait motion.   Now, visualize a line up from that right foot through the spine. You will see that it is clearly under the center/middle of the pelvis. But of course, it is easier to stand on one leg (as gait is merely transferring from one single leg stance to the other repeatedly) when your body mass is directly over the foot.  To do this the pelvis has to drift laterally over the stance leg side.  Sadly though, you should be able to have enough gluteal and abdominal cylinder strength to stack the foot and knee over the hip. This would mean that the pelvis plumb line should always fall between the feet, which is clearly not the case here.  This is sloppy weak lazy gait. It is likely an engrained habit in most people, but that does not make it right. It is pathology, in time something will likely have to give.   This is the cross over gait we have beaten to a pulp here at The Gait Guys over and over &hellip; . . and over.   This gait this gait, this single photo, means this client is engaging movement into the frontal plane too much, they have drifted to the right. We call it frontal plane drift. To prevent it, it means you have to have an extra bit more of lateral line strength in the gluteus medius and lateral abdominal sling to fend off pathology. You have to be able to find functional stability in the stacked posture, and this can take some training and time.  Make no mistake, this is a faulty movement pattern, even if there is not pain, this is not efficient motor patterning and something will have to give. Whether that is lateral foot pain from more supination strategizing, more tone in the ITB perhaps causing lateral knee or hip pain, a compensation in arms swing or thoracic spine rotation or head tilt  &hellip; &hellip; something has to give, something has to compensate.   So, how sloppy is your gait ?   Do you kick or scuff the inside of your opposite shoe ? Can you hear your pants rub together ? Just clues. You must test the patterns, make no assumptions, please.  Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

How relaxed, or shall we say “sloppy” is your gait ?

Look at this picture, the blurred left swing leg tells you this client has been photographed during gait motion. 

Now, visualize a line up from that right foot through the spine. You will see that it is clearly under the center/middle of the pelvis. But of course, it is easier to stand on one leg (as gait is merely transferring from one single leg stance to the other repeatedly) when your body mass is directly over the foot.  To do this the pelvis has to drift laterally over the stance leg side.  Sadly though, you should be able to have enough gluteal and abdominal cylinder strength to stack the foot and knee over the hip. This would mean that the pelvis plumb line should always fall between the feet, which is clearly not the case here.  This is sloppy weak lazy gait. It is likely an engrained habit in most people, but that does not make it right. It is pathology, in time something will likely have to give. 

This is the cross over gait we have beaten to a pulp here at The Gait Guys over and over … . . and over.   This gait this gait, this single photo, means this client is engaging movement into the frontal plane too much, they have drifted to the right. We call it frontal plane drift. To prevent it, it means you have to have an extra bit more of lateral line strength in the gluteus medius and lateral abdominal sling to fend off pathology. You have to be able to find functional stability in the stacked posture, and this can take some training and time.  Make no mistake, this is a faulty movement pattern, even if there is not pain, this is not efficient motor patterning and something will have to give. Whether that is lateral foot pain from more supination strategizing, more tone in the ITB perhaps causing lateral knee or hip pain, a compensation in arms swing or thoracic spine rotation or head tilt  … … something has to give, something has to compensate. 

So, how sloppy is your gait ? 

Do you kick or scuff the inside of your opposite shoe ? Can you hear your pants rub together ? Just clues. You must test the patterns, make no assumptions, please.

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Have a patient with weak hip abductors? Here is a great closed chain gluteus medius exercise called “"hip airplanes” we utilize all the time. Try it in yourself, then try it on your patients and clients, then teach others : )

Podcast #99: How foot placement, the glutes and cross over gait all come together and make sense.

Topics: Plus, How foot placement, the glutes and cross over gait all come together and make sense. Plus, discussions on vibration,proprioception, cerebellum and movement.

Show Sponsors:

*newbalancechicago.com

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A. Link to our server: http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_99final.mp3

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Other Gait Guys stuff

B. iTunes link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : www.onlinece.com type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:

-Amazon/Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Pedographs-Gait-Analysis-Clinical-Studies-ebook/dp/B00AC18M3E

-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pedographs-and-gait-analysis-ivo-waerlop-and-shawn-allen/1112754833?ean=9781466953895

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pedographs-and-gait-analysis/id554516085?mt=11

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:
http://bookstore.trafford.com/Products/SKU-000155825/Pedographs-and-Gait-Analysis.aspx

Show notes:

Evaluating the Differential Electrophysiological Effects of the Focal Vibrator on the Tendon and Muscle Belly in Healthy People ARTICLE in ANNALS OF REHABILITATION MEDICINE · AUGUST 2014 DOI: 10.5535/arm.2014.38.4.494 · Source: PubMed

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jul 15;112(2):374-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.00138.2014. Epub 2014 Apr 30. A neuromechanical strategy for mediolateral foot placement in walking humans.  Rankin BL

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Oct;114(4):2220-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00551.2015. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Hip proprioceptive feedback influences the control of mediolateral stability during human walking.

Roden-Reynolds DC1, Walker MH1, Wasserman CR1, Dean JC2.

Eur Spine J. 2015 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]
Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls.
Cooper NA1, Scavo KM, Strickland KJ, Tipayamongkol N, Nicholson JD, Bewyer DC, Sluka KA.

Prog Brain Res. 2004;143:353-66. Role of the cerebellum in the control and adaptation of gait in health and disease. Thach WT1, Bastian AJ.

You’d have to be smart to walk this lazy, and people are

Research suggests that humans are wired for laziness

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150910131451.htm#.VfWquNKaf3s.facebook

Jessica C. Selinger, Shawn M. O’Connor, Jeremy D. Wong, J. Maxwell Donelan. Humans Can Continuously Optimize Energetic Cost during Walking. Current Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.016

The “Dodgy Foot”, a UK runner’s dilemma.   We get “help me” emails from all over the world on a regular basis. Recently we received this photo from a runner in Oxford, UK,  The runner was frustrated, explaining a “dodgy foot”.  We like the word.      dodg·y    däjē/      -dishonest or unreliable;   potentially dangerous;   of low quality.     We can guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot which appears “in toed” and slanted and appears ready to kick the back of the right heel, not to mention the knees that are about to brush together.  Thus, merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.   Ivo and I do not take on cases via the internet because we cannot give all the information because we cannot examine the client, many do offer such services but people are not being given the whole story and we pledged long ago not to be part of the problem.  Anyone who recommends exercises from things they see on a video gait analysis are basically doing the same disservice in our opinion. But sometimes, as in this case, their inquiry is simple, there is a photo or video and it allows us to highlight an important component of an individuals gait which can lead them on a road to appropriate discovery. This is one of those cases.  I will not be presenting a solution, because I do not have the examination information I need, but I will propose a solid thought process that further investigation may afford progress towards resolution.  This is a non-pathologic cross over gait in my mind until proven otherwise, there may be other sources, causes and components, but when it quacks like a duck you’d be silly not to check for webbed feet. This runner even confirmed upon questioning that the left foot scuffs the inside of the right ankle/shin often, both sides scuff in fact but more left shoe on right shin. No Einsteinian epiphany there.    This means a narrow swing through  (adducting) left limb.   This means stance and swing phase gluteus medius communication problems.   This means swing leg foot targeting problems.   This often suggests right, but sometimes both right and left, frontal plane pelvis sway problems which means pelvis control is challenged which means core lumbar stability control is challenged.   This means adaptive arm swing changes from the clean norm.    This does NOT mean this runner has pain, or pain yet, or maybe never will have pain but there are many determinants of that which I will discuss below.    But, make no mistake, this is flawed gait mechanics. The left swing leg is clearly targeting a more medial placement, meaning limb adduction (active or passive or both is to be determined) and this is a product of the cross over gait   (unfamiliar with the cross over gait ? SEARCH our blog for the term, you will need a few hours of free time to get through it all)  .  Some would call the cross over gait a lazy gait, but I would rather term it  an efficient gait taken too far that it has now become a liability , a liability in which they can no longer stabilize frontal plane sway/drift. A wider gait on the other hand, as in most sprinters, is less efficient but may procure more power and the wider base is more stable affording less frontal plane drift. Just go walk around your home and move from a very narrow line walking gait to a wide gait and you will feel a more powerful engagement of the glutes. Mind you, this is not a fix for cross over gaits, gosh, if it was only that simple !  This runner must investigate whether there is right frontal plane drift, and if it is in fact occurring, find the source of the drift.  It can come from many places on either limb. (This client says they are scuffing both inside ankles, which is not atypical and so we likely have drift on both right and left). We have discussed many of them here in various places on the blog over the years. Now as for “Why” the foot looks in toed, well that can also come from many places. Quite simply the adducted limb once it leaves toe off can look like this. But, perhaps it is also a product of insufficient external rotation maintenance occurred during that left stance phase, affording more internal rotation which is being unchecked and observed here during early swing.  Remember though, if this is in fact a cross over gait result, in this gait the limb approaches the ground unstacked (foot is too far inside a left hip joint plumb line) the foot will greet the ground at a far lateral strike and in supination.  Pronation will thus be magnified and accelerated, if there is enough time before toe off. However, and you can try this on your own by walking around your home, put yourself in terminal stance at toe off. Make sure you have the foot inverted so you are toeing off the lateral toes (low gear toe off). Does this foot not look like the one in the photo ? Yes it does, now just lift the foot off the ground and you have reproduced this photo. And when combined with a right pelvis drift, the foot will sneak further medially appearing postured behind the right foot.   Keep this in mind as well, final pronation and efficient hallux (big toe) toe off does often not occur in someone who strikes the ground on a far lateral foot. I am sure this runner will now be aware of how poorly they toe off of the big toe, the hallux.  They will tend to progress towards low gear toe off, off the lesser toes. This leaves the foot inverted and this is what you are seeing in her the photo above. That is a foot that is inverted and supinated and it carried through all the way through toe off and into early swing. It is a frequently component of the cross over gait, look for it, you will find it, often.   Final thoughts, certainly this can be an isolated left swing phase gluteus medius weakness enabling an adducted swing limb thus procuring a faulty medial foot placement, but it is still part of the cross over phenomenon.  Most things when it comes to a linked human frame do not work in isolation.  But i will leave you with a complicating factor and hopefully you will realize that gait analysis truly does require a physical exam, and without it you could be missing the big picture problem.   What if she has a notable fixed anatomic internal tibia torsion on that left side. Yup, it could all be that simple, and that is not something you can fix, you learn to manage that one as a runner.       * Side bar rant: Look at any google search of runners photos and you will see this type of swing limb foot posturing often, far too often.  And yes, you can take the stance that “I do it as well and i have no injuries or problems so what is the big deal?”.  Our response is often “you do have an issue, it may be anatomic or functional, but you do have an asymmetrical gait and you think it is not a problem, YET”. And maybe you will run till you are 6 feet under and not have a problem because you have accomodated over many years and you are a great compensator, yes, some people get lucky. Some people also do not run enough miles that these issues express themselves clinically so lets be fair. But some of these people are reality deniers and spend their life buying the newest brace or gadget, trying a different shoe insert, orthotic or new shoe of the month and shop over and over again for another video gait analysis expert who can actually fix their pain or problem. And then there are those who have a 45 minute home exercise program that they need to do to keep their problems at bay, managing, not fixing anything.  Or, they spend an hour a week on the web reading article after article on what are the top 4 exercises for iliotibial band syndrome for example. They shop for the newest Graston practitioner, the newest kinesio taping pattern, Voodoo bands, breathing patterns, compression socks etc.  And sometimes they are the ones that say they still dont have a problem.You get the drift.  Gosh darn it, find someone who knows what the hell they are doing and can help you fix the issues that are causing the problem.  And yes, some of the above accoutrements may be assistive in that journey.     I have dealt with this unique toe off issue way too many times not to roll my eyes at it any longer. It is to the point that it is an automated evaluation and solution program that begins to run in my head. Once you see something enough times, you learn all of the variations and subtle nuiances that a problem can take on. But, trying to fit everyone into a similar solution model is where the novice coach, trainer or clinician will get into trouble. Trust us, it all starts with an examination, a true clinical physical examination.  If one leaves the investigatory process to a series of screens or functional movement patterns, “activation” attempts, digital gait analysis or strength tests one is juggling chainsaws and the outcome you want is often not likely to occur. There is nothing wrong with making these components part of the investigation process, but on their own, they are not enough to get the honest answer many times.  Of course, Ivo and i were not able to jump the pond and examine this runner with our own eyes and hands so today’s dialogue was merely to offer this runner some food for thought to open their mind to our thought process, in the hopes that they can find someone to help them solve the underlying problem and not merely make the gait look cleaner. Making someone’s walking or running gait look cleaner is not hard, but making it subconsciously competent and clean (without thought or effort) requires a fix to the underlying problem. We can ALMOST guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot that looks in toed and slanted. Merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.   Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

The “Dodgy Foot”, a UK runner’s dilemma.

We get “help me” emails from all over the world on a regular basis. Recently we received this photo from a runner in Oxford, UK,  The runner was frustrated, explaining a “dodgy foot”.  We like the word. 

dodg·y    däjē/

-dishonest or unreliable; potentially dangerous; of low quality.

We can guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot which appears “in toed” and slanted and appears ready to kick the back of the right heel, not to mention the knees that are about to brush together.  Thus, merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime. 

Ivo and I do not take on cases via the internet because we cannot give all the information because we cannot examine the client, many do offer such services but people are not being given the whole story and we pledged long ago not to be part of the problem.  Anyone who recommends exercises from things they see on a video gait analysis are basically doing the same disservice in our opinion. But sometimes, as in this case, their inquiry is simple, there is a photo or video and it allows us to highlight an important component of an individuals gait which can lead them on a road to appropriate discovery. This is one of those cases.  I will not be presenting a solution, because I do not have the examination information I need, but I will propose a solid thought process that further investigation may afford progress towards resolution.

This is a non-pathologic cross over gait in my mind until proven otherwise, there may be other sources, causes and components, but when it quacks like a duck you’d be silly not to check for webbed feet. This runner even confirmed upon questioning that the left foot scuffs the inside of the right ankle/shin often, both sides scuff in fact but more left shoe on right shin. No Einsteinian epiphany there. 

  • This means a narrow swing through  (adducting) left limb. 
  • This means stance and swing phase gluteus medius communication problems. 
  • This means swing leg foot targeting problems. 
  • This often suggests right, but sometimes both right and left, frontal plane pelvis sway problems which means pelvis control is challenged which means core lumbar stability control is challenged. 
  • This means adaptive arm swing changes from the clean norm.  
  • This does NOT mean this runner has pain, or pain yet, or maybe never will have pain but there are many determinants of that which I will discuss below. 

But, make no mistake, this is flawed gait mechanics. The left swing leg is clearly targeting a more medial placement, meaning limb adduction (active or passive or both is to be determined) and this is a product of the cross over gait (unfamiliar with the cross over gait ? SEARCH our blog for the term, you will need a few hours of free time to get through it all).  Some would call the cross over gait a lazy gait, but I would rather term it an efficient gait taken too far that it has now become a liability, a liability in which they can no longer stabilize frontal plane sway/drift. A wider gait on the other hand, as in most sprinters, is less efficient but may procure more power and the wider base is more stable affording less frontal plane drift. Just go walk around your home and move from a very narrow line walking gait to a wide gait and you will feel a more powerful engagement of the glutes. Mind you, this is not a fix for cross over gaits, gosh, if it was only that simple !

This runner must investigate whether there is right frontal plane drift, and if it is in fact occurring, find the source of the drift.  It can come from many places on either limb. (This client says they are scuffing both inside ankles, which is not atypical and so we likely have drift on both right and left). We have discussed many of them here in various places on the blog over the years. Now as for “Why” the foot looks in toed, well that can also come from many places. Quite simply the adducted limb once it leaves toe off can look like this. But, perhaps it is also a product of insufficient external rotation maintenance occurred during that left stance phase, affording more internal rotation which is being unchecked and observed here during early swing.  Remember though, if this is in fact a cross over gait result, in this gait the limb approaches the ground unstacked (foot is too far inside a left hip joint plumb line) the foot will greet the ground at a far lateral strike and in supination.  Pronation will thus be magnified and accelerated, if there is enough time before toe off. However, and you can try this on your own by walking around your home, put yourself in terminal stance at toe off. Make sure you have the foot inverted so you are toeing off the lateral toes (low gear toe off). Does this foot not look like the one in the photo ? Yes it does, now just lift the foot off the ground and you have reproduced this photo. And when combined with a right pelvis drift, the foot will sneak further medially appearing postured behind the right foot. 

Keep this in mind as well, final pronation and efficient hallux (big toe) toe off does often not occur in someone who strikes the ground on a far lateral foot. I am sure this runner will now be aware of how poorly they toe off of the big toe, the hallux.  They will tend to progress towards low gear toe off, off the lesser toes. This leaves the foot inverted and this is what you are seeing in her the photo above. That is a foot that is inverted and supinated and it carried through all the way through toe off and into early swing. It is a frequently component of the cross over gait, look for it, you will find it, often. 

Final thoughts, certainly this can be an isolated left swing phase gluteus medius weakness enabling an adducted swing limb thus procuring a faulty medial foot placement, but it is still part of the cross over phenomenon.  Most things when it comes to a linked human frame do not work in isolation.  But i will leave you with a complicating factor and hopefully you will realize that gait analysis truly does require a physical exam, and without it you could be missing the big picture problem.  What if she has a notable fixed anatomic internal tibia torsion on that left side. Yup, it could all be that simple, and that is not something you can fix, you learn to manage that one as a runner.  

* Side bar rant: Look at any google search of runners photos and you will see this type of swing limb foot posturing often, far too often.  And yes, you can take the stance that “I do it as well and i have no injuries or problems so what is the big deal?”.  Our response is often “you do have an issue, it may be anatomic or functional, but you do have an asymmetrical gait and you think it is not a problem, YET”. And maybe you will run till you are 6 feet under and not have a problem because you have accomodated over many years and you are a great compensator, yes, some people get lucky. Some people also do not run enough miles that these issues express themselves clinically so lets be fair. But some of these people are reality deniers and spend their life buying the newest brace or gadget, trying a different shoe insert, orthotic or new shoe of the month and shop over and over again for another video gait analysis expert who can actually fix their pain or problem. And then there are those who have a 45 minute home exercise program that they need to do to keep their problems at bay, managing, not fixing anything.  Or, they spend an hour a week on the web reading article after article on what are the top 4 exercises for iliotibial band syndrome for example. They shop for the newest Graston practitioner, the newest kinesio taping pattern, Voodoo bands, breathing patterns, compression socks etc.  And sometimes they are the ones that say they still dont have a problem.You get the drift.  Gosh darn it, find someone who knows what the hell they are doing and can help you fix the issues that are causing the problem.  And yes, some of the above accoutrements may be assistive in that journey. 

I have dealt with this unique toe off issue way too many times not to roll my eyes at it any longer. It is to the point that it is an automated evaluation and solution program that begins to run in my head. Once you see something enough times, you learn all of the variations and subtle nuiances that a problem can take on. But, trying to fit everyone into a similar solution model is where the novice coach, trainer or clinician will get into trouble. Trust us, it all starts with an examination, a true clinical physical examination.  If one leaves the investigatory process to a series of screens or functional movement patterns, “activation” attempts, digital gait analysis or strength tests one is juggling chainsaws and the outcome you want is often not likely to occur. There is nothing wrong with making these components part of the investigation process, but on their own, they are not enough to get the honest answer many times.  Of course, Ivo and i were not able to jump the pond and examine this runner with our own eyes and hands so today’s dialogue was merely to offer this runner some food for thought to open their mind to our thought process, in the hopes that they can find someone to help them solve the underlying problem and not merely make the gait look cleaner. Making someone’s walking or running gait look cleaner is not hard, but making it subconsciously competent and clean (without thought or effort) requires a fix to the underlying problem. We can ALMOST guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot that looks in toed and slanted. Merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

The smell of napalm in the morning: Your gait and trouser coughs, a clinical entity no one talks about.

Written by Dr. Shawn Allen


This is our very last gait guys blog post. Yes, all good things come to an end, even this trusted blog.
But, keeping in good faith, we will finish on a strong note ……. One of gardenia and lavender.  Thanks for the last 5 years gait brethren, is has been a great ride.  Shawn and Ivo
_______________________________
The technical title of this blog post should have been, “The reactive influence of non-normopressure bowel distention and spontaneous high vapor dissipation on bipedal locomotion.”  but no one but true gait nerds would have read it had we stuck with this pubmed-type title. Yes, we are talking about farts and gait here today folks, buckle up.

One biomechanical principle we will link to this entity of “off-gassing“ is that excessive or sustained ankle plantarflexion could inhibit dorsiflexion and certainly, at the very least, works against it. We have talked about this often here on the blog and how the lack of ample ankle dorsiflexion can impair many of the biomechanical events higher up into the human frame. So, how can someone’s bowel gas translate into gait problems ?

Think about this …  to squeeze out a right “cheek sneak” (fart) with optimal crowd pleasing pitch and peak vibrato, some elevation and relaxation of the lower and middle gluteus maximus divisions (coccygeal and sacral) seems imperative to optimally control off-gassing . Seemingly, to do this, a significant degree of right ankle plantarflexion may be necessary to lift the right hemipelvis driving a subsequent intentional clockwise pelvic distortion assisting in the relaxation of these gluteal divisions.  This consciously driven right side of the body “lift” via the right ankle plantarflexion can also be met and assisted via ipsitlateral abdominal and contralateral gluteus medius contraction to further enable the optimal right hemipelvis elevation. Go ahead, stand up and mimic the posture and note these biomechanical pieces. Recall our mantra, 

“when the foot is on the ground, the glutes are in charge, when the foot is in the air, the abdominals are in charge”.  

These coordinated motor patterns might be considered dual/multi tasking. This honed series of biomechanical events is one often perfected in frat houses and basement gaming rooms. But make no mistake, there is a biomechanical danger lurking here if this becomes a habitual compensation pattern, one common in large volume legume consumers (beware vegans). Habituation of this motor task, or demonstrating poor technique over time can render right quadratus lumborum shortening and weak lower abdominals rendering an anterior pelvic tilt. This tilt may lead to gluteal inhibition/weakness (because it is difficult to contract the gluteals in an anterior pelvic tilt, go ahead stand up again and try it) which over time can impair stance phase gait mechanics. However, relating to the off-gassing, this physical posturing might optimize low frequency gluteal vibrations that can optimize vibrato during gas dissipation if pressurization is in fact optimal for an “audible”.  It is important to note that conscious variable control of the tonus of the muscular anal sphincter complex plays a big part in the pitch and vibrato. There is always a drawback it seems, it does truly come down to motor control it seems, doesn’t it always ?


This is not to say that avoiding “audibles” through holding “one” in doesn’t have consequences. The exotic gas (nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane, oxygen) induced gut distention that could only make your collage roommate proud can inhibit the abdominal wall and thus the lower thoracic canister and disable normal breathing mechanics. This could be a serious complication to the coupled events of respiration and thoracic mobility. So, holding that big one in for your friends rather than engaging the compensatory Trendeleburg-type off-gassing posture as described above is also fraught with problems. We know that functional disconnection of the thoracic canister from the pelvic core can disrupt the normal anti-phasic mechanics of the contralateral upper and lower limbs as well as possibly impair the normal spinal cord mediated central pattern generators.

Farts…..Call them what you want, those ear pleasing, nose hair curling, trouser coughs that only a teenage boy can truly relish and recognize as a function of boyhood success.  All joking aside, they truly should be your biggest concern in your gait analysis evaluation, bar none. Ask your patients about their bowels and off-gassing, it should be part of your clinical history intake. Maybe even consider taking out the discomfort of open dialogue, and put it on your intake forms. We found that a stick figure diagram in a good biomechanical squat posture with a mushroom cloud formation hanging overhead eases dialogue tension about this sensitive topic. We even give the young children crayons to they can color the cloud. What fun !


Dare us to write a part two on this topic. “Blue Angels” (unfamilar with this clinical phenomenon? look it up). Go ahead, dare us for a part 2. 

By now, if you haven’t realized that The Gait Guys just punked you, then you likely haven’t had your cup of morning coffee. Yes, we have no clue what we were talking about on this blog post, well, ok maybe, after all we do have that y-chromosome. Yes, we are NOT ending the blog either :) 

Are you now considering us juvenile ? Ok maybe we are a little, but don’t deny it, you thought about some unique and honest body biomechanics for a moment here and it is these mental gymnastics that will take your creative thinking about gait to the next level. If you are upset, so be it. There will be no apologies here in this growing PC world. Off-gassing is a human thing, we all do it. We have been writing serious stuff daily for 5 years here on The Gait Guys. It was time for us to write something a little lighter.  We can only hope that you will think of us and the complexities of the gait cycle the next time you sneak one out while having dinner at the in-laws.  Try not to giggle when you do, but for certain, think about your body mechanics when you do, we can’t be responsible for off-gassing injuries. Think of us.

Shawn Allen, remaining here, for the duration.

disclaimer: we cannot be responsible for injuries that might be sustained by improper off-gassing events. We also do not recommend attempts at performing Blue Angels, this is a potentially dangerous activity and could cause great bodily harm (seriously). :)