Did you know even a small muscle group like ankle flexors can impact your ability to walk with confidence? Consider the key elements of a good walking pattern:
- good posture with eyes forward not down,
- a strong ankle flexion and heel strike directly forward -not opening to the side
- easily transferring weight from one foot to the other
- forward movement – you could walk along a wide board.
To assess fall risks, researchers examine stride-length (how far apart your feet are front to back), stride-width (how far apart your feet are side to side), the amount of time spent on two feet versus one foot, and posture/alignment.
If you can’t strongly flex your ankle for a forward moving heel strike, you’ll land more flat-footed which requires you to shorten stride length and open stride width. That creates more side to side movement which often leads to “shuffling” the feet and looking down rather than forward. This walking pattern increases your fall risk.
Practice your ankle flexion and weight transfer with the Heel Press exercise, and use a railing or wall for support as you practice walking with confidence. If you have balance concerns, please see a physical therapist to retrain your gait and regain walking confidence!
*Follow physician advice on exercise
Stand in an upright posture with your left side to the chair and hand resting on the chairback. Keeping knees slightly bent, strongly flex the right ankle while pressing the right heel forward. Bring the foot back, stepping on it next to the left foot. Repeat with the opposite foot and continue alternating R & L heel presses forward 20x’s. Can be done seated.
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