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Although it seems natural to us, it is truly a remarkable achievement that we walk around on two legs, freeing our forelegs for other purposes. We are not the only animals that walk on two legs, but we are unique in the multitude of things we have figured out to do with our forelegs since our ancestors stopped using them to support their weight. Perhaps resulting from this success in adapting our forelegs to manipulate our surroundings in innumerable ways, the foundation for this, our Locomotive Core, appears to have been somewhat neglected. Additionally, we have been quite successful at replacing the function of our Locomotive Core, from mastering riding horses to riding in cars or on bicycles, etc. The consequence of this innovation has been that many of us do not embody the scope of our locomotive attributes, which is demonstrated by the many preventable structural issues we experience as aches and pains.
As a Manual Therapist, this writer has invested a great deal of time educating his clients in more effective gait and stance strategies. A portion of this website is supporting materials for that purpose. In the process of discussing gait and stance, ideas for aids, or research to validate the underlying concepts, have emerged. Some of these ideas are explored in these papers:
STANCE ANALYSIS TOOL
This system is a stance analysis tool built around an iPhone application. It presents individual foot front/back loading values as percentages of the total loading of the foot and left/right percentages of weight between the sides of the body. The percentages are presented on a basic Smartphone app.
BIOMETRIC FOOT FUNCTION FEEDBACK APP
Having a means to get feedback on how one is standing or moving can be helpful in retraining habitual stance and gait patterns, guiding one to healthier automaticities. A phone app that can provide this function would seem to have utility. This project is an attempt at accomplishing this.
Stance and gait are driven by automaticities that we consciously manage. The biometric Foot Function app described above is a way to provide feedback on stance and gait dynamics to our conscious awareness, which can then redirect these automaticities. Directly triggering these automaticities would be a more direct approach, bypassing the conscious mind. This “shoe” project is research on this subject.
WALK SIGN POLICY CHANGE
We learn to walk. There is no innate mechanism that percolates upward as we develop that enables stance and gait. Learning is the result of observation and experimentation. Consequently one can observe vast variances in stance and gait patterns. These variances even make it into our social infrastructure. In San Francisco, CA one example of this is our “WALK” signs. As this graphic is omnipresent, it exerts a continual influence on our gait and stance patterns. Replacing these signs over time would have a positive effect on our common well-being.
PROPOSAL FOR INTEGRATING GAIT AND STANCE EVALUATION INTO STANDARD MEDICAL SCREENING
Efficient posture and gait dynamics use less energy, leaving more of our resources available to respond to demands (stress). It appears logical that over time, this would show a statistically significant deviation in health outcomes based on variances in posture and gait. In a large enough sample, this deviation may correlate to Autoimmune, Cancer, Mental Health, and other diagnosed pathologies, as well as the large cohort of undiagnosed, general reporting of malaise. Integrating Gait and Stance evaluation into standard medical screening could create a significant dataset revealing correlations between posture and movement patterns and disease.
CROSS-SECTIONAL REGIONAL STUDY APP
If movement and posture data could be collected from a range of societies covering the breadth of the level of Westernization and depth of cultural heritage, inferences could be made about the influences of the Built Environment and culture on postural health. It is possible to subjectively assess gait dynamics visually, simply by watching how people walk. Visually assessed data can be collected using a basic Smartphone-based application. This data can then be collated to make inferences about the effect of Westernization on posture and gait dynamics.
Please contact me with questions or comments on any of these projects:
OTHER RESEARCH IN THIS ARENA
There is an enormous amount of work being done on Gait Biomechanics. This writer’s opinion is that much of this work embeds cultural adaptations and compensations, obfuscating the conclusions about what is “normal” or “abnormal” gait. The section of this website on the LOCOMOTIVE CORE attempts to define the phases of optimal gait based on the premise that our bodies’ anatomical center of gravity should not veer far from our center of mass. Moving in this way minimizes the energy expended and maximizes the range of motion potentials. The image at right illustrates the basic principles.
Much can still be learned by reading published articles on human biomechanics. A good place to start is Google Scholar:
BIOMECHANICS GAIT ANALYSIS
An overview of foot structural and functional issues and means to optimize how we use our feet:
An overview of the several models describing the expression of Life through the form of our species: