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Gait

Posted by Nancy N on 9/21/00 at 15:07 (028823)

This question was sparked by something Salina said about trying to consciously correct her gait. I overpronate with my left foot, but walk normally with the right. When I was a child, I had to wear something called a Thompson heel (or sole, don't remember which), but my family doctor said I only had to wear it for about a month, my mom tells me, so I'm not sure what the point of that was, but I assume it had something to do with my left foot. (I currently have PF in the right foot, but previously had it in the left)

Anyway, when I started PT last year, I really started watching my feet when I walk (and managed not to walk into any trees, somehow!). I asked my PT if it's possible to retrain your feet when you've been doing this for so long (I'll be 29 in a few weeks), and he told me it probably wasn't worth the effort. Salina's comment has me wondering again, though...

What do you guys think about this? First of all, is it even possible, and secondly, is it worth the effort? If so, is there any recommended way to try to accomplish it?

Re: Gait

JudyS on 9/21/00 at 17:48 (028840)

Nancy N - that's a good question - the one about 'retraining' your gait. I noticed it because my gait had become significantly out of whack in order to accomodate the PF pain. My PT has had me on stretching and specific strengthening to regain a normal gait and I'm pretty sure it's working. He was showing an aide the calluses on my big toes and I mentioned that, before PF, those calluses were not there but there had always been some on the balls of my feet at the base of the big toes. He said that was more normal and the big-toe ones just go to show how my gait had gone astray. So......I wonder if you actually can change your gait? Mine has been for a much shorter time than yours but maybe you can.

Re: Gait

Dr. Biehler on 9/21/00 at 19:24 (028843)

Functional orhtotics can change your gait. Your gait has a lot to do with your bone structure and the range of motion in your joints. The body always finds a way to compensate if something isn't working the way it is suppost to.After a while this can show up as pain and degeneration.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/21/00 at 19:31 (028844)

Hi Nancy N.
your question is a good one.
But I may need to explain myself better before the doctors read this and think I'm telling everybody they can miraculously change their gait problems,haha.
I have been told by three different doctors that I don't pronate, or suppinate, or walk in any way that may have caused my pf. And they keep telling me my arches are not flat or too high. so i am taking their word on that. but leaves me wondering why after ten months i am still in pain.
what happened with me was I felt better in my birk sandals, i think my feet were more comfortable in open toed sandals for one thing. my feet were pretty much swollen most of the time. a few minutes in closed shoes and i was taking them right back off.

i dont know if my right foot was always worse than the other foot. or if i subconsciencely made it the worse one. What I mean by that is, I had a five month old and a 16 mos old to take care of. This meant I HAD to be able to walk. Sometimes I chose a foot to always stand on when the other one was hurting. The left foot won.
But what I didnt realize was that i was taking a normal step with the left foot, so it has not lost flexibility or strength. Because you have to use your foot muscles or whatever to go from heel to ball of foot, and push off with your toes. I know I did not explain that correctly, but just go with me on this. When it was time to take a step with my right one, I was actually just sort of picking it up and landing it flat on the floor, so none of the foot muscles were being worked.
One thing that maybe got me to doing this (besides the pain) was we have stairs in our house and that is how I would manage to get down them. I would turn slightly sideways and place each foot completely flat on the stairs so as not to overstretch the fascia. This got me in the habit of walking this way, especially when the pain was its worse.
I was limping and didn't even realize it.
I don't want anyone to go out and hurt themselves by forcing themselves to walk correctly when it hurts.
I just think, for me, i wish I had tried to keep the flexibility in my foot more.
I have spent the last month trying to break in these orthotics. Almost gave up. But I'm glad I didn't. I feel so much better now when I have to go somewhere, and I'm not limping.
My irritating neighbor, every time she sees me she says something about my limp, and gives me the look that means (you're just a lazy woman). Saw her yesterday and she said, 'You must be all better now.'
I just smiled and said, 'yeah.' Whatever it takes for her to quit asking.

Re: Gait

Nancy N on 9/21/00 at 20:37 (028846)

I've had orthotics, though, and my foot still lands on the ground the same way. Does that mean I've had the wrong sort of orthotics? Or am I using the wrong terminology? I'm not sure I understand how something inside your shoe can affect the way your foot actually lands on the ground.

Re: Gait

Nancy S. on 9/21/00 at 23:09 (028850)

Salina, your gait issue sounds exactly like what I was doing. (And it's probably one reason I developed tendonitis.) There were several points at which PF had improved enough to try walking normally -- and it was downright weird, how hard it was walk from heel to toe, after so many months of laying off that foot, or limping or using a cane at best. I would concentrate on walking correctly and then lose my focus. I'd be limping without even knowing it until someone else pointed it out to me.
You're right to REALLY focus on this. I'm having to start over on focusing on this, with the aircast off now. Today I think I walked out to the mailbox quite normally -- slowly, but using a normal stride. It felt like a miracle! Best of luck with this --
Nancy

Re: Gait

Barbara TX on 9/21/00 at 23:36 (028851)

I am attempting a normal stride too... but when I do, I feel 'heat' where the arch meets the heel. Should I ignore this feeling and keep going for the normal steps anyway? Hmmm. B.

Re: Gait

Julie F on 9/22/00 at 03:09 (028855)

I'm a PF baby, just six weeks into the learning curve. Almost as soon as my heel pain began, I noticed that I had changed my gait to accommodate it: supinating, turning the foot slightly in, and putting less weight on it. I was aware, and very concerned, that this was straining my knee and doing my lower back no good. On my first session with the podiatrist, he taped my foot, and that made it possible for me to walk more or less normally without compensating for the pain.


I'm sure all you PF veterans have been through this, but just thought I'd mention it.

Salina, going back to something you said in reply to my posting about back problems - has anyone suggested to you that your pregnancy may have triggered your PF?

All the best, Julie

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 16:57 (028893)

Yep, exactly. just a quick note to ya....I think the Acu-Flex you have will be beneficial in helping with this problem.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 17:12 (028895)

I wish I knew what to tell you on this issue, Barbara.
I can only say that the first few weeks of trying to walk normally, I thought every night that I had caused a setback. I made sure to ice several times a day, cause there were times when I felt it pulling my arch too much since it wasn't used to being used, and I would be sure to ice as quickly afterwards, or whenever I got to sit down.
I also quit trying anything else extra, like new stretches or massage. I figured my foot was going through quite enough just getting worked and stretched from walking. So I laid off everything else for a couple of weeks.
And, I am on IBU, so that might have helped me get through the worse part.
I would not want to advise someone to 'walk through the pain'.
They could end up in far worse shape, I guess.
I just got fed up with limping. My foot still hurt as much as it did the day I got this. So I figured all my limping wasn't getting me anywhere. And after seeing for myself how weak and useless my foot had become scared me into doing it.
But, in my case, I started walking normally when I got my orthotics, and my feet were laced up and supported really good with the orthotics. It could probably be deadly (for the feet) for someone who has not found the right shoes, inserts, or orthotics, to do this.
I really think having the good support for my arch made a big difference.
I hope you find what works for you, just be careful and trust your instincts.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 17:27 (028897)

Hi Julie,

Believe me, IIIII have definately suggested my pregnancies contributed to my pf, I suggest it just about every day to my husband, haha. long story! for another board, haha

But seriously, I have stopped dwelling on it, but i did go through two pregnancies close together, where i went about two years with rapid weight gain, no exercise (too sick), and then have bouts with exercise overkill. And I think I wore the same pair of shoes through all this also. I can basically go down the list of things you shouldn't do, and i did it.
I don't believe being overweight causes pf. i know of tons of overweight people that are as graceful as a ballerina and don't have a single joint problem.
But for me it was more the changes happening so quickly.
Went from almost always exercising to never exercising
Went from a particular weight I had been for years to a big weight gain.
Wore nothing but running shoes 24/7 for years to wearing cheap flat sandals.
Lived in thick carpeted home all adult life to 3 years of hard tile.

These are the things I have narrowed it down to.
But I do think I have some kind of joint or soft tissue thing happening. Because I have always had pretty much constant back pain, but since getting PF I NEVER feel my back ache at all,
but my neck is killingme. go figure.
Good luck to you, Julie.

Re: Gait

Julie on 9/23/00 at 14:53 (028958)

Hi Salina

First: my commiserations and sympathies on your painful cortisone shot - I hope you will be feeling better soon, if you aren't already. And that the injection will work for you.

I wonder if anything can be said to be a single 'cause' of pf (or any other ailment for that matter). What I meant was that weight gain in pregnancy might be the 'trigger factor', if one or some of the conditions for pf were already there. My own problem would seem to stem from my lower back - but I'm sure it was the 'straw that broke the camel's back kind of thing. In my case a combination of flat feet, pronation (supposedly, but perhaps not entirely, corrected by wearing orthotics for the last six years, plus advancing age (I'm 65) and some recent weight gain all contributed, and when my back went out - bingo!

Ironically, my back is fine now, but my right heel is quite another story! I'm hoping that as it was caught fairly early (largely thanks to this site and all I've learned from it over such a short time) it won't become chronic. Now my husband and I are off to Crete for two weeks - and I won't be able to go for the long walks I love. But I'm more or less resigned to that and will just sit and look about me...and swim and read. And hope for the best.

My very best wishes to you. I look forward to catching up when I'm back (second week in October).

Julie

Re: Gait

JudyS on 9/21/00 at 17:48 (028840)

Nancy N - that's a good question - the one about 'retraining' your gait. I noticed it because my gait had become significantly out of whack in order to accomodate the PF pain. My PT has had me on stretching and specific strengthening to regain a normal gait and I'm pretty sure it's working. He was showing an aide the calluses on my big toes and I mentioned that, before PF, those calluses were not there but there had always been some on the balls of my feet at the base of the big toes. He said that was more normal and the big-toe ones just go to show how my gait had gone astray. So......I wonder if you actually can change your gait? Mine has been for a much shorter time than yours but maybe you can.

Re: Gait

Dr. Biehler on 9/21/00 at 19:24 (028843)

Functional orhtotics can change your gait. Your gait has a lot to do with your bone structure and the range of motion in your joints. The body always finds a way to compensate if something isn't working the way it is suppost to.After a while this can show up as pain and degeneration.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/21/00 at 19:31 (028844)

Hi Nancy N.
your question is a good one.
But I may need to explain myself better before the doctors read this and think I'm telling everybody they can miraculously change their gait problems,haha.
I have been told by three different doctors that I don't pronate, or suppinate, or walk in any way that may have caused my pf. And they keep telling me my arches are not flat or too high. so i am taking their word on that. but leaves me wondering why after ten months i am still in pain.
what happened with me was I felt better in my birk sandals, i think my feet were more comfortable in open toed sandals for one thing. my feet were pretty much swollen most of the time. a few minutes in closed shoes and i was taking them right back off.

i dont know if my right foot was always worse than the other foot. or if i subconsciencely made it the worse one. What I mean by that is, I had a five month old and a 16 mos old to take care of. This meant I HAD to be able to walk. Sometimes I chose a foot to always stand on when the other one was hurting. The left foot won.
But what I didnt realize was that i was taking a normal step with the left foot, so it has not lost flexibility or strength. Because you have to use your foot muscles or whatever to go from heel to ball of foot, and push off with your toes. I know I did not explain that correctly, but just go with me on this. When it was time to take a step with my right one, I was actually just sort of picking it up and landing it flat on the floor, so none of the foot muscles were being worked.
One thing that maybe got me to doing this (besides the pain) was we have stairs in our house and that is how I would manage to get down them. I would turn slightly sideways and place each foot completely flat on the stairs so as not to overstretch the fascia. This got me in the habit of walking this way, especially when the pain was its worse.
I was limping and didn't even realize it.
I don't want anyone to go out and hurt themselves by forcing themselves to walk correctly when it hurts.
I just think, for me, i wish I had tried to keep the flexibility in my foot more.
I have spent the last month trying to break in these orthotics. Almost gave up. But I'm glad I didn't. I feel so much better now when I have to go somewhere, and I'm not limping.
My irritating neighbor, every time she sees me she says something about my limp, and gives me the look that means (you're just a lazy woman). Saw her yesterday and she said, 'You must be all better now.'
I just smiled and said, 'yeah.' Whatever it takes for her to quit asking.

Re: Gait

Nancy N on 9/21/00 at 20:37 (028846)

I've had orthotics, though, and my foot still lands on the ground the same way. Does that mean I've had the wrong sort of orthotics? Or am I using the wrong terminology? I'm not sure I understand how something inside your shoe can affect the way your foot actually lands on the ground.

Re: Gait

Nancy S. on 9/21/00 at 23:09 (028850)

Salina, your gait issue sounds exactly like what I was doing. (And it's probably one reason I developed tendonitis.) There were several points at which PF had improved enough to try walking normally -- and it was downright weird, how hard it was walk from heel to toe, after so many months of laying off that foot, or limping or using a cane at best. I would concentrate on walking correctly and then lose my focus. I'd be limping without even knowing it until someone else pointed it out to me.
You're right to REALLY focus on this. I'm having to start over on focusing on this, with the aircast off now. Today I think I walked out to the mailbox quite normally -- slowly, but using a normal stride. It felt like a miracle! Best of luck with this --
Nancy

Re: Gait

Barbara TX on 9/21/00 at 23:36 (028851)

I am attempting a normal stride too... but when I do, I feel 'heat' where the arch meets the heel. Should I ignore this feeling and keep going for the normal steps anyway? Hmmm. B.

Re: Gait

Julie F on 9/22/00 at 03:09 (028855)

I'm a PF baby, just six weeks into the learning curve. Almost as soon as my heel pain began, I noticed that I had changed my gait to accommodate it: supinating, turning the foot slightly in, and putting less weight on it. I was aware, and very concerned, that this was straining my knee and doing my lower back no good. On my first session with the podiatrist, he taped my foot, and that made it possible for me to walk more or less normally without compensating for the pain.


I'm sure all you PF veterans have been through this, but just thought I'd mention it.

Salina, going back to something you said in reply to my posting about back problems - has anyone suggested to you that your pregnancy may have triggered your PF?

All the best, Julie

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 16:57 (028893)

Yep, exactly. just a quick note to ya....I think the Acu-Flex you have will be beneficial in helping with this problem.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 17:12 (028895)

I wish I knew what to tell you on this issue, Barbara.
I can only say that the first few weeks of trying to walk normally, I thought every night that I had caused a setback. I made sure to ice several times a day, cause there were times when I felt it pulling my arch too much since it wasn't used to being used, and I would be sure to ice as quickly afterwards, or whenever I got to sit down.
I also quit trying anything else extra, like new stretches or massage. I figured my foot was going through quite enough just getting worked and stretched from walking. So I laid off everything else for a couple of weeks.
And, I am on IBU, so that might have helped me get through the worse part.
I would not want to advise someone to 'walk through the pain'.
They could end up in far worse shape, I guess.
I just got fed up with limping. My foot still hurt as much as it did the day I got this. So I figured all my limping wasn't getting me anywhere. And after seeing for myself how weak and useless my foot had become scared me into doing it.
But, in my case, I started walking normally when I got my orthotics, and my feet were laced up and supported really good with the orthotics. It could probably be deadly (for the feet) for someone who has not found the right shoes, inserts, or orthotics, to do this.
I really think having the good support for my arch made a big difference.
I hope you find what works for you, just be careful and trust your instincts.

Re: Gait

salina on 9/22/00 at 17:27 (028897)

Hi Julie,

Believe me, IIIII have definately suggested my pregnancies contributed to my pf, I suggest it just about every day to my husband, haha. long story! for another board, haha

But seriously, I have stopped dwelling on it, but i did go through two pregnancies close together, where i went about two years with rapid weight gain, no exercise (too sick), and then have bouts with exercise overkill. And I think I wore the same pair of shoes through all this also. I can basically go down the list of things you shouldn't do, and i did it.
I don't believe being overweight causes pf. i know of tons of overweight people that are as graceful as a ballerina and don't have a single joint problem.
But for me it was more the changes happening so quickly.
Went from almost always exercising to never exercising
Went from a particular weight I had been for years to a big weight gain.
Wore nothing but running shoes 24/7 for years to wearing cheap flat sandals.
Lived in thick carpeted home all adult life to 3 years of hard tile.

These are the things I have narrowed it down to.
But I do think I have some kind of joint or soft tissue thing happening. Because I have always had pretty much constant back pain, but since getting PF I NEVER feel my back ache at all,
but my neck is killingme. go figure.
Good luck to you, Julie.

Re: Gait

Julie on 9/23/00 at 14:53 (028958)

Hi Salina

First: my commiserations and sympathies on your painful cortisone shot - I hope you will be feeling better soon, if you aren't already. And that the injection will work for you.

I wonder if anything can be said to be a single 'cause' of pf (or any other ailment for that matter). What I meant was that weight gain in pregnancy might be the 'trigger factor', if one or some of the conditions for pf were already there. My own problem would seem to stem from my lower back - but I'm sure it was the 'straw that broke the camel's back kind of thing. In my case a combination of flat feet, pronation (supposedly, but perhaps not entirely, corrected by wearing orthotics for the last six years, plus advancing age (I'm 65) and some recent weight gain all contributed, and when my back went out - bingo!

Ironically, my back is fine now, but my right heel is quite another story! I'm hoping that as it was caught fairly early (largely thanks to this site and all I've learned from it over such a short time) it won't become chronic. Now my husband and I are off to Crete for two weeks - and I won't be able to go for the long walks I love. But I'm more or less resigned to that and will just sit and look about me...and swim and read. And hope for the best.

My very best wishes to you. I look forward to catching up when I'm back (second week in October).

Julie