Walking and it’s problems…

Rebecca Nicholas, Doctor of rebecca nicholasChiropractic is the principle chiropractor and director at Back 2 Balance. She has been a Chiropractor for over 12 years and with this experience comes with the realisation that most pain starts from a gradual build up of small problems left to manifest.  Below, she writes about one of these issues- walking- which nearly all of us do regularly, but don’t realise how complicated it is.


How the human body walk’s is fascinating. Read below, (if interested) some of the terminology and the description of the phases of walking (gait). The reason for wanting to show you all this, is to help you appreciate just how complicated the action of walking is, and to highlight the numerous potential causes of gait problems. A problem in someone’s gait could have other knock on complications. Carry on reading to gain some insights into this…..

Phases of walking (gait)

Phases of gait

Heel strike, also known as initial contact, is a short period which begins the moment the foot touches the ground and is the first phase of double support. 30° flexion of the hip and full extension in the knee is observed. The ankle moves from a neutral position into plantar flexion.

In foot flat, or loading response phase, the body absorbs the impact of the foot by rolling in (pronation). The hip moves slowly into extension and the knee flexes.

In midstance the hip moves from flexion to extension by contraction of the gluteus medius muscle. The knee reaches maximal flexion and then begins to extend. During this phase, the body is supported by one single leg. At this moment the body begins to move from force absorption at impact to force propulsion forward.

Heel off begins when the heel leaves the floor. In this phase, the body weight is divided over the metatarsal heads.

In the toe-off/pre-swing phase, the hip becomes less extended. The knee is flexed and plantar flexion of the ankle increases. In toe-off, like the name says, the toes leave the ground.

In the early swing phase the hip extends to 10° and then flexes due to contraction of the iliopsoas muscle 20° with lateral rotation. The knee flexes to 40-60°, and the ankle goes from 20° of plantar flexion to dorsiflexion, to end in a neutral position.

In the mid-swing phase the hip flexes to 30° and the ankle becomes
dorsiflexed. The knee flexes 60° but then extends approximately 30°

The late swing/declaration phase begins with hip flexion of 25-30°, a locked extension of the knee and a neutral position of the ankle.


It is important to recognise that the entire body moves while walking. A disorder in any segment of the body can have consequences on the individual’s gait pattern, like a reduced knee flexion range in patients with a reconstructed ACL.”


A problem with walking can be caused by many many things, some of the musculoskeletal reasons I’ve included below…..

• Hip Pathology
• Knee pathology
• Foot and ankle pathology
• Leg length discrepancy
• Pain

So, as such us Chiropractors emphasis the need to have proper foot, ankle, knee and hip function, even in the absence of pain. A dysfunction in any of these joints and muscles (often without any symptoms present), can lead to future problems. Why not schedule a Chiropractic check up now to help prevent future problems. Don’t wait till things hurt….