Teaching Your Children to Walk and Run Correctly

Teaching Your Children to Walk and Run Correctly

Monday, October 31, 2022

A common mistake made by parents is to assume that their children will walk and run correctly. Most children are never taught the correct ways of walking and running, their parents expecting that it will just happen naturally. Children usually follow the example of their parents, and this means that many children will copy their parents’ waling and running style. 

However it has been estimated that up to 70% of adults walk and run incorrectly, so this problem is perpetuated by children copying the wrong style. 

The average person’s foot hits the ground approximately 5000 times per day, so it is easy to see why it is so important to walk and run correctly. It is estimated that during walking, the foot hits the ground with a force equal to four times the body weight. When we run, this figure can rise to eleven times our body weight. 

These forces have to go somewhere and, as Newton’s third law of physics states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. If the style is incorrect, rather than going into the ground, forces will be dissipated up our legs and into the spine, causing potential problems. 

We have powerful muscles at the back of our legs because we are meant to push off with our legs when we walk and run. There is very little musculature at the front of our shins, so if we attempt to use our legs to pull ourselves forward, instead of pushing, the overuse can result in pain, sometimes know as ‘shin splints’. In walking and running, emphasis should be placed on pushing off with your first and second toes. This motion will ensure that you use the power muscles to propel yourself forward, making your actions smoother and more energy efficient, helping to dissipate the impact. 

In both running and walking, the arms should swing straight. The head should be held erect with the eyes parallel to the ground. Under no circumstances should the arms cross the midline of your body. This will cause a rotary twist at the base of your spine. ‘Power walkers’ are a group that are particularly at risk of doing spinal damage, if their exaggerated arm movement crosses the midline. 

Good runners and walkers tend to lean forward slightly. This is important, as the body should not be perfectly upright or leaning backwards. People who run incorrectly are more prone to hamstring, groin, ankle, knee and shin splint injuries. 

Uneven wear on the soles of your shoes may be the first warning sign of biomechanical instability. If your walking and running styles are correct, the wear pattern on your shoes should be symmetrical and most of the wear will be over the first and second toe area, across the mid foot and evenly on the heels. 

Incorrect walking and running styles can be corrected. However it generally takes several months before re-programming will show good results, hence the importance of teaching children to walk and run correctly in early life, preventing future spinal problems.  

Ask your chiropractor to assess the wear pattern on your shoes and to check you and your family’s walking and running style. 

Dr. Steve Hodal is committed to providing high-quality, individualized chiropractic care in a comfortable and relaxed environment. He is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us to know more about this disorder or Book Online.