T Nation

Help with Walking...


#1

I posted another topic a while back, which I'm intending to return to (once I get some photos up) but the issue here is one in relation to it, and one which I really need some help with. For a good while, I had been experiencing difficulties with walking in a 'balanced' manner; at the end of last year, in an attempt to counteract this, and to try to re-align myself, I had focused on walking with my feet dead-straight ahead.

This ended suddenly when, after a month or two, I awoke one day with excruciating pain in my knees- I was diagnosed with chondromalacia patella and IT-Band syndrome, leaving me barely able to walk for a number of weeks. After about 7 or 8 weeks I returned to activity and had no pain for about 5 months (though the unbalanced feeling remained); I then reasoned that my body was not biomechanically designed to have my feet pointing in such a way (as I had never naturally walked in that manner.)

However, a few months ago, after still being unable to resolve my balance issues (even after physio, ortho and chiro) I again tried changing my style of walking, but this time in a different way. Things seemed to be fine for a week or two, and I even began to feel more balanced, but I eventually began to experience pain, particularly around my knee and my IT-Band; as soon as this began, I tried to revert to what I thought was my natural style, only to realize that I have forgotten what it is.

Even returning to what I thought was correct, I now find very difficult to maintain- yet I'm not even sure if is. My feet and knees now seem to be 'stuck' in the position which eventually resulted in my intial CP and IT-Band syndrome (straight ahead,) and no matter what stretches, glute activation, or soft-tissue work I do, I can't seem to put things right, or to ease any pain.

This has all but put a stop to my training- walking is now a challenge, simply because I can't remember what is 'right'. In addition, I have a huge fear that I'm going to end up with a similar injury to that which I have already experienced- I'm already feeling slight discomfort and pain, but I can't help but worry that it's only going to get worse.

Is there anything I can do to find what should be my natural walking style, or to reverse what I have done? I have no photos or videos of myself to refer to, which would seem the obvious choice. Please, any advice is hugely appreciated.


#2

how are your feet? when people have trouble with balance the issue often stems from their feet. feet are capable of doing much of what hands do but of course most people encase them in blocks of shoes so all the muscles that are capable of gripping the ground and such atrophy.

have you tried getting a ball and rolling the muscles under your feet and around your ankles? your calves? the front of your leg? might as well give your ITB a good going over, too. and your quads and adductors... many people find hot spots low on their quad around their knees etc.

have you tried barefoot shoes such as vibrams or training in vibrams / bare feet more generally? one legged exercises are good for training balance. strength and stability in the arches, ankles, knees, and hips.

sounds to me like you need to get stuck into your soft tissue work. i'm working hard on rehabbing my feet from old injury and once i got vibrams i went through a period of hardly being able to walk as the muscles around my feet / lower legs / knees woke up. rolling stuff really helped but i still needed to transition gradually because of fatigue.


#3

with respect to walking...

i looked into that quite a bit because i have trouble walking since my injuries. i wanted to know how people were bio-mechanically supposed to walk.

our arches are really important. they work as shock absorbers. studies of native peoples (who have never worn shoes) found that they tended to strike the ground lightly with their full foot or they would strike the ground lightly with the ball of their foot then transition their heel to the ground gently then raise their heel and launch from the ball.

most people who wear shoes smash their heels into the ground. that jolts the knees and lumbar spine. striking lightly with the whole foot / the ball lets you absorb most of the shock (even on hard rocks) with the muscles supporting your arches and ankles.

i think having your feet facing forwards is a good idea. sounds to me like you just need to do your soft tissue work and realize that waking up those smaller muscles is going to result in quite a lot of DOMS in the shorter term...


#4

Thanks for your reply. Looking at photos from a couple years ago, my feet do seem to point quite noticably outwards, but this was before I began to exercise, so I don't know if it is a good reference point as I figure some changes would have come about naturally from changes in muscle strength and function. I had already been doing soft-tissue work, hip mobility drills and glute activation, since before my first knee injury, but nothing had ever naturally changed the way my feet pointed. When I didn't dick around with stuff, my knees were fine, but my balance issues were more noticeable; now, after making an effort to change things, I've been in pain these past 2 months, and soft tissue work hasn't been helping. I don't know how to move back to my natural style- it makes me wonder if some muscles adapted during the time when I was playing around with stuff, leaving me unable to revert back. Only problem is, what I'm doing at the minute is causing pain. I've even tried going back to wearing shoes which had been pretty worn down, so that my feet would fall into what should be their natural 'groove' but now walking in those shoes is so uncomfortable and feels so unnatural, whereas before it would have felt fine.


#5

though things didn't feel fine which is why you started working on trying to fix up your feet. i wouldn't try and get them back to how they used to be - that was problematic enough for you to feel motivated to changing it. rather, i'd try and get them as good as you can...