Underdeveloped Calf Muscles & Low Back Pain

Something we don’t ever think about is how we walk…. ofcourse, why would you think about it?

Yesterday I was out and just stopped to sit and was watching the way people walked. The people watching combined my experience working with clients who have various muscle and/or joint issues – it’s time to take it back to basics. The time you spend in the gym is minimal (1 hour) compared to the time you spend walking around and doing your daily activities (+10 hours). Walking is an action that is natural and ‘obvious’ in that we don’t think about it however, it can be more erroneous than we think.

Examining your walking mechanics could be a prime indicator of various weaknesses and or pains you experience in the low back, hips, lower leg, and feet. Specific muscles should activate and deactivate during each step. With poor mechanics, some muscles can work overtime leading to tightness and strains while others are weak and underdeveloped.

The Gait (Walking) cycle goes like so: (Follow along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV6CAZiv5Zo)

1) Stance Phase

a) Heel Strike – Heel touches ground

b) Mid-Stance – Foot is flat on the ground and weight of the body is on this (support) limb

c) Toe-off – Only the bog tow of the limb is in contact with the ground

2) Swing Phase – Foot is no longer in contact with the ground

3) Double Support – Both limbs are in contact with the ground simultaneously

During the 3 phases – muscles of the lower body (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) are turned on. It is quiet easy to examine your gait or get somebody else to. In my experience many people have a tendency to minimize the ‘toe-off’ phase. Deviances in proper walking mechanics can be a prime reason for muscle imbalances/weakness, postural issues, compensatory and overuse injuries.

A while back I was running along the seawall with a friend of mine who had pre-warned me he couldn’t run as long as I could. Being a fit guy I asked him why, what is stopping you? He said I get shin splints when I run. I slowed down a few steps behind him and let him run ahead. Upon watching him run, I asked him to correct the way he lands on the ground with his foot. He was able to focus on it and make that change. The change was almost instant, and the onset of shin splints didn’t actually occur on that run at all.

He contacted me weeks later and said – WOW! I am able to run much longer since you asked me to correct my running stride.

Proper mechanics can go a long way. Get in touch with a professional and nip it in the butt!


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