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The benefits of walking and biomechanical analysis!


Did you know May is National Walking Month? Well if you didn’t, you do now! This mini blog is designed to quickly raise awareness of the potential health benefits of walking, some potential injury related topics and whether you should get a walking analysis.

Benefits

We all know walking has potential health benefits such as maintaining healthy weight, preventing different illness and also effect mood positively. This systematic review   http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/11/710.short highlights many of these health benefits such as reducing bloody pressure, reducing resting heart rate, improving mood and improving functional outcomes! All from just walking!

Walking has also been to be as effective as a local strengthening programme to help improve outcomes in people with chronic lower back pain http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269215512453353. So sometimes, you do not need to just strengthen your core if you have back pain and doing a little more walking can go a long way!

Barriers

So, it seems that walking has some great benefits regarding pain reduction, health and wellbeing. So much so that the government have tried to promote walking and cycling to be utilised for short commutes http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/11/710.short but there seem to be small barriers such as fear of safety (particularly with cycling), an inability to fit a slightly longer commute around family life and the fact it is not most people’s normal.

Do these ring true with yourself? Barriers are important to highlight so that we can better overcome them. Maybe we can commute on less stressful days? On days with a safer commute? Maybe you would be more willing to walk a bit more now you know that the health benefits are vast?

Should I get a walking analysis?

Often we think that a gait analysis is more relevant for a runner than a walker but this may not always be correct! We see many gait changes that occur post injury that can often stay around after pain subsides and we often do not notice! This could potentially contribute to symptoms persisting or increasing the demand on other tissues.

For an example, an ankle sprain can often cause someone to either:

  • Walk ‘toed out’
  • Lean forward a little more
  • Cause their heel to rise a little sooner in the gait cycle
  • The knee to lock out/hyper extend.

These changes can cause an increased load to the lower back, tighten up the hip flexors or cause increased load on the knee joint. All these changes can be altered if walking is observed, corrective exercises and walking cues implemented.

Another example would be we can potentially predict whether symptoms will persist through assessing walking. This paper shows how we can differentiate between people without back pain, whether they had a bout that was resolved or whether their back pain has persisted!

Wrapping it all up

  • Walking has plenty of potential health and wellbeing benefits
  • Walking can help the reduction of long term back pain
  • Increasing your walking can often be hindered by different life and perceptual barriers
  • A walking analysis can be beneficially, especially if you have a previous injury.
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