“those with chronic neck pain demonstrated a narrower step width, a shorter step length and slower gait speed during walking with the head movements and at maximum speed” - Uthaikhup et al. study:
Head movement and Gait Parameters:
By now you should have a good grasp of the global impact of gait and how it presents and translates in everything we do. It is how we move through this world, and everything we do, and everything that has happened to us, impacts our gait. And, our gait impacts things in turn, from our mental state to how we think and act.
By now, if you have been with us here on The Gait Guys long enough, you know that with the tremendous proprioceptive impact of the system from the cervical spine, that neck pain can influence sensorimotor function and thus motor function. However, little is known about the effects of head movement and walking speed on gait characteristics in patients with neck pain.
Patient sample: 20 women aged between 18 and 59 years with chronic neck pain (>3 months) and 20 healthy controls of similar age, weight and height
Indexes used: Neck Disability Index and Visual Analogue Pain Scale.
“The experiment consisted of two walking sessions. The first session included walking with head straight, head up-down, and head turns from side to side. The second session included walking at comfortable and maximum speeds. Each trial was performed twice. Gait parameters measured using GAITRite walkway system were step length, stride length, step time, stride time, step width, cadence and gait speed.”
According to this study, the clients with chronic neck pain showed several changes in how they implemented their gait. They displayed step width narrowing, a reduction in step length and speed of gait, and even an overall reduction in gait speed when neck movements were induced or encouraged or when there was pain..
As Uthaikhup et al. summarized, “The results suggest that patients with chronic neck pain have gait disturbances. This supports the notion that assessment of gait should be addressed in patients with persistent neck pain.”
You have to know your gait norms to understand abnormals. We have written about other parameters that affect gait speed, step length and width here on the blog. Here is one more parameter for you to store in your noggin. It is all connected. So, when you goto your gait analysis guru, ask them if they are going to clinically assess your painful neck as part of the gait analysis (be prepared for the “deer in the headlights” look).