Get ready to view the simple act of walking in a whole new light!
In this illuminating interview, renowned podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal spotlights the immense power of the gait cycle, i.e., our walking pattern, to influence our longevity and vitality and even to extend our health span.
Doctors have long known that slow walkers in their seventies and eighties tend to die sooner than fast walkers the same age. However, new research shows that a slow walk is a problem sign even decades before old age, and that is a reliable indicator of accelerated aging even in middle-aged people.
What are some of the warning signs to look for? A key predictor is decreased stability in the gait cycle, i.e., in your walking pattern, notes Dr. Emily.
People start shuffling from side to side instead of fully stepping. This may seem like an insignificant shift, but we lose critical hip and spinal rotation with this change. It also decouples the impact forces from the feet and legs that help stimulate the muscles and bones further up the chain.
Fortunately, the new research into the importance of our walking pattern also gives us a great window into how we can slow aging and extend our health span.
“Optimizing our gait cycle can enhance our overall well-being by stimulating beneficial nerve and bone responses, properly loading our fascial “slings,” and promoting adequate blood flow to the brain,” explains Dr. Emily.
What’s the secret? It all starts with our base, our feet.
The feet are our sole contact with the ground and are a big factor in developing foundational instability.
Our feet bridge us to crucial myofascial connections. To restore a more healthy walking pattern, we need to learn a more healthy foot engagement combined with pelvic/core activation that creates a more integrated whole body movement against gravity, explains Dr. Emily.
This is particularly important to work with as we age. Over time, our natural walking pattern fades, and we misperceive dysfunctions as our new “normal.”
Simply realigning to a neutral position of the pelvis in relation to the spine remarkably transforms coordination, notes Dr. Emily. She discusses how yoga and inventive sensory cues can help restore body awareness and a more balanced walking pattern.
She also talks about her YogaUOnline course, which shows how to restore essential gait components. Dr. Emily will show simple yet effective assessments to pinpoint problem regions like the feet, hips, and spine that need greater mobility.
Dr. Emily will condense elaborate research into usable principles on sustaining resilient, youthful movement to magnify the grace possible in our fundamental yet intricate gift of gait.
Also check out Dr. Emily’s course: Gait, Posture, and Longevity: Movement Mastery for Optimal Health.