How to Walk the Walk

Did you know that the way you walk reveals a great deal about your health? When I invite patients into my office, I watch as they rise from the waiting room chair and walk toward me. Stooping forward or to one side implies muscle weakness and poor flexibility. I also pay special attention to stride— how easily each leg clears the floor, the length of each step, and whether their steps are symmetric. Pain in a joint or muscle will result in the patient favoring a limb, which creates a tense, uneven motion as they walk.

Similarly, if someone suffers from balance problems, they are apt to take short, cautious strides, which leads to decreased flexibility, strength, and endurance over time. Walking that is effortful and causes heavy breathing suggests poor cardiovascular fitness. By the time my patients reach the threshold of my office, I often have a good sense of what their diagnosis will be.

Whatever the underlying cause, I regularly recommend working with a physical therapist. When you walk with grace and confidence you exude a newfound sense of well- being and energy. With proper balance training, stretching, and strengthening, you will be taking the first few steps toward Dynamic Living in your stride!

Excerpted from Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You, by Dr. Marie Pasinski (Hyperion)