My new Doctor is very thorough with preventative screening, so she sent my off to the PT to get a gait evaluation. This is seems a like a bit of overkill since I’m so active, but it does provide a baseline to compare against in the future. Also I did have to get my rotator cuff repaired because of a fall. Even though it was a fall on an off-camber slope on loose scree with worn out trail shoes while descending the biggest mountain in our area, let’s just be sure the gait’s ok.
This was a fun test and the bar is not too high to pass it. First my PT, Glenn, checked range of motion and strength of hips, knees and ankles. Then he took me through what reminded me of a field sobriety test (no, I’ve never had one, but I’ve seen them on TV). First Balance:
Next was a crossover step (sometimes call “the grapevine”) followed by side stepping. Here’s a video clip:
He had me do a little exercise alternating feet, tapping on a 12″ high block, and walk backwards. Then he watched me walk (which triggered a little performance anxiety 🙂 ), and said my gait was ok.
Here is a good short video for improving your gait at home. It seems like practicing the test described above is a good start. He also he also includes things like walking on heels, on toes, and high knee raises while walking. He also mentions that a lot of these movements come up in dancing, so he highly recommend dancing for keeping your gait lively (as well as being fun 🙂 ).
You see a lot of seniors whose gait is very short or are shuffling. Aside from illness and injury, this can be due to lack of flexibility, strength, or balance. All of these can be trained, and it results in a tremendous improvement to quality of life. I’ve seen my local PTs work miracles with people in these areas.