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Exercise and Walking Gait Problems

by
author image Jay Schwartz
Jay Schwartz has had articles printed by the "Chicago Tribune," "USA Today" and many other publications since 1983. He's covered health, fitness, nutrition, business, real estate, government, features, sports and more. A Lafayette, Pa. college graduate, he's also written for several Fortune 500 corporate publications and produced business newsletters.
Exercise and Walking Gait Problems
Two women are walking outdoors. Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

Walking gait problems can impair your effort to become physically fit and increase your risk of injury. Bad posture is the primary reason for walking gait problems, according to "The Complete Guide to Walking." You have bad posture and walking gait if your shoulders are slouched, your lower back is arched or your hips lean forward as you walk. Several exercises that will improve your strength and flexibility can fix your walking gait problems.

Symptoms of Gait Problems

A walker's risk of injury is about one-fifteenth a runner's risk, according to Harvard Men's Health Watch. Walkers in pain may not have actual injuries, but are suffering because their technique is wrong and they are out of shape. Pain in the back, knees and shins are often the first signs that you have a walking gait problem.

Good Posture and Exercise

Strengthening your back and torso are the basis of good posture. "Guide to Walking" author Mark Fenton recommends 10 minutes of three back-strengthening exercises three days weekly. Curl-ups consist of lifting your upper body off the floor while you're lying on your back and one knee is bent. Isometric side support consists of lying on your side and lifting your body with the arm closest to your side. Alternate extensions consist of lifting each leg straight behind you while you're on your hands and knees.

Strengthening Your Knees

You can strengthen your knees and reduce your walking gait problems via 10 straight-leg lifts, wall sits, bridges and single calf raises. Leg lifts consist of slowly lifting and lowering each leg while lying on your back with your opposite knee bent. Wall sits consist of bending your knees while standing straight against a wall. Bridges consist of lifting your hips and trunk off the floor after lying on your back with your knees bent. Calf raises consist of bending each leg while you're on your other leg's toes.

Shin Pain Solution

Beginning fitness walkers are particularly susceptible to shin problems. You can strengthen your shins by standing on your tiptoes, rolling your feet onto their outside edges and raising the toes of one foot as high as possible while you're standing on your other foot's heel. You should do these three exercises 10 times each, holding each position for two seconds each time.

Stretch Out After Walking

Stretching just a few minutes after every walk can reduce your walking gait problems by improving your joint movement and cutting your injury risk. Mark Fenton recommends alternating taking giant steps with each foot while bending that foot's knee, leaning forward from your waist and alternating pulling the toes of each foot behind you with your opposite hand until your knee is fully bent.

Expert Insight on Exercise

Using the same muscles every day increases your risk of injury and technique problems, according to The Merck Manual of Medical Information. The encyclopedia recommends alternating aerobic exercises such as walking and muscle-strengthening exercises. Swimming and rowing machines are good low-impact exercises for strengthening your back.

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