What to Do When Your Giddy-up goes Haywire?
Learn to recognize and address posture and gait imbalance.
You walk by your dining room chairs a thousand times a day without incident. Not this time. CRACK goes your little toe against the leg of the chair. Oh the toe, anything but the toe! You may let out a yelp, or if we are being honest, a few words not fit for little ears.
Hopefully, the toe bones hold. But now you have a hitch in your giddy-up. This hitch is a glitch in your natural gait. This glitch in your gait causes muscle imbalances.
Injuries like banging toes or tripping down a step are one cause of imbalance. Diseases like stroke, neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, and diabetes also affect one’s ability to walk and move efficiently. Over half a million medical studies discuss hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, and other imbalances. The studies also point out that the resulting muscle imbalances from injury or disease cause arthritis, pain, and even deformities. What do we do when our giddy-up has gone haywire?
Giddy-up Changes are Responsive
The body has self-protecting mechanisms. After the toe meets the chair and the words come out of your mouth, you start to limp. The heel digs in, the toes lift up, and you walk with as little weight as possible on that foot. Limping protects the toe from further injury. Swelling, bruising, and pain are other examples of the body’s protective response.
That protective limp, however, triggers new responses. Your legs, back, shoulders, and neck adjust to the limping motion. In the short time it takes to heal a toe, muscles and bones shift away from normal function. Muscle imbalances can lead to shoulder, hip, and knee pain or arthritis. What’s a body to do to bring the giddy-up back in line?
Do a Giddy-up Check-in
First, listen to the signals from your body:
· Does one side feel stronger?
· Does one side suffer from more arthritic pain than the other?
· Are you still limping even though the injury has healed?
Don’t ignore these signals, subtle as they may be. The mentality of pushing through slight imbalances serves us well for daily life. But we do need to take notice of persistent discomfort.
Next, evaluate your posture:
· Stand with your back and heels against a wall.
· Notice how your shoulders, buttocks, and back of your head contact the wall.
· Become aware of the wall pressure from each part.
· Notice if one shoulder or hip is higher than the other.
This checks for strength versus flexibility in the body. Without trying to fix anything, just become aware of where you may have more strength or flexibility.
Finally, talk to a professional:
· Consult with a medical professional if you have severe pain or deformity.
· For less debilitating issues, speak with a physical therapist, personal trainer, or exercise physiologist to develop a corrective program.
We all have an individual giddy-up gait, but it is up to us to keep it healthy.
Nurture the Giddy-up you Got
We each have muscle, bone, and structural makeup that form our individual gait. Every person moves within the confines of their body structure. As discussed above, injuries and diseases can affect your gait. The less we play, the harder it is for our bodies to realign naturally. Fitness, yoga, tai chi, and even playing with the grandchildren are all great ways to maintain your healthy giddy-up!
Nurturing your gait will be specific to your needs. Consider the back against the wall posture evaluation:
· If your shoulder blades touch but your head does not, this may indicate a body that needs upper back strengthening and chest flexibility. Back extensions, lat raises, and row exercises all accentuate strength here.
· If the shoulders and head touch but the buttocks do not, you need abdominal strengthening and low back lengthening. Core exercises with lower back stretching will bring that giddy-up right back into rhythm.
If you need a check-in on your giddy-up, give us a call. Hopeful Healing can help you find the perfect solution to your muscle imbalances. Our group exercise programs evaluate where you are while empowering you to get better. Private personal training and health therapy sessions are just the ticket to get your giddy-up back in balance.