When You Walk, Your Pain Talks

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“The humble act of putting one foot in front of the other transcends age, geography, culture, and class, and is one of the most economical and environmentally responsible modes of transit.” – Dan Rubin.


Walking represents the integrated communication of all your body’s nervous, articular and muscular systems coming together to define your movement language. At New Body Physio, we love to look at your gait pattern: the way you walk. Over the years our bodies adapted gait into an ingenious and complex pattern of movement that has been studied well. We are obsessed with identifying every little intricacy to highlight the hidden source of your pain.

Walking involves our whole body. When holding stiffness or discomfort anywhere our bodies will start to load several joints more than others to allow us to perform this most primitive movement given to us. We have to walk whether we’re in pain or not, it’s how we travel in life. So if there is one thing the body is going to prioritise despite our painful state it’s the ability to ambulate. This creates dysfunctional movement patterns that lead to suboptimal performance. Ideally we take 10.000 steps a day. Imagine the effects of reinforcing dysfunction in the body with all those steps you take, day in day out.

We all take our walking for granted thus we do not realise how poorly we walk when in pain. This is the concept of asymmetrical load sharing. Let us give you an example: You currently suffer from back pain and this pain is constantly in your consciousness. Complaints become worse when walking for prolonged periods. So you go see your physio or some other therapist to try to deal with it. Despite the multiple attempts of local treatment, the back remains stubbornly painful. Until an insightful therapist asks whether you have ever had lower limb injuries. Then a lightbulb starts flashing! The ankle sprains, ligament tears, car accidents or surgeries that we have faced in the past are most likely contributing to our current painful state. Why? Because once there is an insult to any tissue in the body, whether from surgery or injury, our body will start a cycle of compensation to remain functional and allow us to continue our daily activities. So, what most people do not realise is that this ankle, knee or scar is one of the true entry points to dysfunction in our being which is now manifesting as low back pain.

Here is another common example we see in practice: History tells us you have injured your ankle when you were young. The inability to pronate (roll in) or supinate (lift) this ankle causes diminished proprioceptive information up to the brain. Without this knowledge the nervous system will start to adapt in its signals to the muscles and joints to ensure safety. Joints that crave movement might lock up to safeguard stability, tissues higher up will be loaded differently and the whole body will react and adapt. Neck aches because of a 20 year old ankle sprain? More common than you might think!

Your body is great at coping with dysfunction and it is certain every person has dysfunctional movement patterns. But do this for 20 years (or longer!) with every step you take and sooner or later your body will send you a request for change. Pain will be the messenger and will impact your functionality massively. That’s why we also offer regular tune ups at New Body Physio to improve the way you function in sports and in life.

In pain? Come by New Body Physio to reveal us your pattern and we’ll work towards quick recovery by assisting you every step of the way.

Best Regards,
Corey Iskenderian