One thing my massage therapist (Joe Wattles, Eugene, OR)¬†does is gait analysis. This summer, he put me on a treadmill and watched my walk. He said that the way I was walking was probably undoing a lot of the work we’d been doing with massage and exercises. I had suspected as much.

Here are the instructions he gave me for walking. Keep in mind that these instructions correct my walk, not necessarily yours:

1) I need to bend forward at the hips more. My butt needs to be back far enough that I can see my feet from the ankles forward, when standing and looking down.

2) I need to land with less weight on my heels, transferring my weight very quickly to my whole foot.

3) My knees need to bend considerably more with each footfall, absorbing the shock of impact. This, along with #2, means that my stride needs to be shorter.

4) While my belly button stays facing forward, my ribcage needs to twist more, so that my sternum points from 10 to 2 o’clock with each stride.

5) My arms need to swing less, and my shoulders (which I am holding a bit up and back from their habitual position, as assigned by my PT and described here) more. My ribcage/shoulder motion should be what is swinging my arms, while in my normal walk my arm swing is doing all of the counterbalancing of my stride.

6) My head needs to pull back so that my ears are above my shoulder joints.

This all felt pretty weird for a couple weeks. It felt like I was sticking my butt out, sneaking, bouncing up and down, and walking with a flamboyant twist. It still feels a little funny after a couple months, in that I only do it when I remember to do it consciously, but it feels much less awkward. In fact, it feels more confident and energetic than my old walk–more like prowling. My old walk feels stiff and jolting. I imagine that my new walk is more like I walked as a kid, before I stopped wanting to draw attention to myself.