This post from 2011 was edited, updated, and expanded in 2020. This is one of a handful of our favorite articles on walking, including topics covering what various “walking parts” do as well as other whole-body considerations. Find the rest of them in the walking section of Our Favorite Feet, Footwear, and Walking Resources.
Gait patterns adapt to many things, like shoes, terrain, our mood, our schedule and even to other people (see Gait 101 for more on that). To practice seeing gait patterns and alignment changes with each, check out bio motion lab software to access a model build from gait motion lab data and answer the questions below.
After you've loaded the lab,
1. Click to start the person walking.
2. Click to add lines.
3. Toggle the four options (sex, moods, weight) right to left to see how the body changes its gait pattern in response to our personality, responds to anthropometric variations, etc. It is amazing! The perfect thing to do at work on a Friday. Tell your boss you are not on Facebook, but crunching some data. And then analyze their gait as they walk away, pleased that you're not on Facebook.
4. See if you can answer these questions:
1. What is the main anthropometrical difference between Full Male and Full Female?
2. What is the main weight-bearing motor skill missing in Full Male vs. Full Female?
3. What is a main culturally-influenced difference between Full Male and Full Female?
4. Normalizing for weight and sex, but full relaxed and sad, what is the greatest asymmetrical thing you see?
5. What does "happy" walking do to the center of mass? What cliche is validated by this analysis?
6. What characteristic does Fully Male share with Heavy when comparing the two?
7. Evaluating "NERVOUS" from the pelvis down, What appears to be happening with the walker's cadence?
8. Analyzing #7 further, what do the lower legs tell you about the muscles in the trunk...specifically?
9. Evaluating "Nervous" from the pelvis up, what's going on?
10. Which combo gives the walker the GREATEST amount of hip extension? The least (i.e. where is walking with hip flexion the greatest)?