By Betsy Wetzig, BA
Pain associated with the feet, knees, hip and back is often caused by the habitual imprint of walking incorrectly. We can spend lots of money getting adjustments from health practitioners, and it will help; fundamentally, if we don’t stop long-term damage and continue to walk incorrectly, in a way that caused us the problems in the first place, then the condition will reappear. It is even worse for all the people who just medicate the pain, and accept it as part of getting old or old sports injuries.
Worse still, it is not just pain we have to worry about. Real damage is being done by many people because of the way they walk and you may be one of them. For just one example, it can cause hip damage. As Exercise Physiologist, Vreni Gurd, “…I frequently see this same faulty walk pattern (overuse of the hip flexors) in those that have had or are about to have hip replacement surgery. I think it is possible that overuse of the hip flexors during gait may pull the femur slightly forward in the acetabulum, potentially creating a wear problem leading to the need for hip replacements.” Milton Trager used to call this faulty walk the sit walk and it is caused by the misuse of the four Coordination Patterns that organize our walk, especially in this case the Swing Pattern. In his Mentastics work, Trager applied an exercise which happened to be in the Swing Coordination Pattern to fix it.
As Vreni Gurd explains, “We can improve our walk by exercises that will help us to release our hip flexors and position our hips so that they will rotate more easily. However, to fix our total walk, we need to fix our whole walk and our whole walk is a coordination of all our body parts.” More is needed. We need to learn how to loosen, lengthen, strengthen and coordinate our muscle/joint systems. The motion of the neck bones and weight motion of our head do affect the way the ankle is working and vice versa.
By trying to fix your walk partially by doing such things as putting your head in a certain place, holding your stomach flat, or pulling back your shoulders, you are usually doing more harm than good. Fortunately, the body-movement-mind system has a built-in way to function ergonomically.
So, why doesn’t this corrective system just kick in and fix us? Well, our coordination system works something like the hard drive on a computer along with possible “apps.” The hard drive keeps the ergonomic functions ready, but the habituated apps can easily get in the way. You might get a coordination app because you were in a cast for a while, so your body adjusted your balance and movement to accommodate it, but when the cast comes off, it is easy for pieces of this app to remain. Your body has a new habit of walking. Perhaps you keep your weight shifted, or you don’t re-synchronize your gate. Or you might also have a stress or pain reaction and get into the habit of living with tight ribs. The apps that were useful for a while no longer serve us well, but we don’t know they exist or how to turn them off. There are hundreds of reasons we put the apps on.
The good news is that you can clean up your “computer” and get back to the ergonomic hard drive through the correct use of the Coordination Patterns
You can do simple easy exercises and the principles of using the Patterns to optimize your walk and:
- Improve body mechanics, and the way you move – walk, sit, play sports, etc.
- Reduce or eliminate joint/muscle pain, and support healing
- Learn how to deeply relax, and live in a more relaxed ergonomic way
- Use correct breathing to enhance your movement abilities
- Learn to easily loosen, lengthen, strengthen and coordinate muscles/joints
- …even use physical exercises to improve mental abilities.
Isn’t it time for you to fix your walk and stop long term damage from incorrect walking? Coordination Pattern Training is the easy answer. Have your walk analyzed today!
Private Sessions, Classes, and Workshops available.
Injury Prevention & Walking Restoration Workshop
Saturday, March 28th, 9:00 am to Noon, $45 (2 for $100)
Betsy Wetzig, international presenter, movement researcher, and dancer-choreographer, is founder and director of Coordination Pattern™ Training, Psyche-Soma Dynamics, and Full Potential Learning. Her work on Leadership Training includes co-authorship of Move to Greatness: Four Essential Energies for a Whole and Balanced Leadership and co-creation of the FEBI® (Focus Energy Balance Indicator). She has created DVD “Coordination Pattern™ Training in Support of Tai Chi” with Tai Chi master Bill Newman. Her work includes training for Pilate teachers, InterPlay Leaders, body workers, athletes, dancers and people who want to move ergonomically.