STOP SHUFFLING YOUR FEET
Foot shuffling is just one of the common contributing factors to many fall incidents. Read about the others here: Contributing Factors for Falls.
What causes us to shuffle our feet? Click on the links shown for how to improve things.
- Leg weakness. We lose mass in the big muscles of the legs as we get older. Sitting a lot is a big part why. Develop Leg Fitness.
- Loss of core strength. This also comes from sitting more. Our legs feel heavy to lift because we don't have the power of our core to help us. O abdominals, wherefore art thou?
- Stiff foot joints. We use our feet as if they are single units that land flat on the ground, a habit that increases stress on spine and knee joints. If our foot and ankle joints are stiff and unmovable, we cannot roll through the foot as we walk. That means all the work of picking your feet up is done by the core, a weaker area already. Walk Much More Easily.
- Knees that hurt to bend. Arthritis in the knee joints makes it painful to flex the knee as we walk. This means lifting our feet up hurts. Knees That Hurt.
- Tentativeness in our step. This affects us especially after we have had a fall.
- Lower back pain. If you have lower spine problems, it hurts to pick your feet up so you shuffle instead. Lower Back Pain.
- Lazziness. It feels effortful to lift our feet up. Actually, if you learn the right way, walking takes much LESS effort.
Picking your feet up requires one of 2 things:
- A stronger core to help lift the heavy weight of each leg. A strong core is essential to better health as we age for many reasons. This is just one more. O abdominals, wherefore art thou?
- Flexibility in the foot, ankle and knee joints to be able to use the foot to push off the floor. This is the technique taught in the Building Better Balance series. Read more about this technique here: Walk Much More Easily.
When in doubt, pick your feet up!.
Whenever I am in the midst of a challenging situation, I remind myself to pick my feet up. That will always help, no matter what the situation. For example, if you are forced to walk in slippery conditions, shuffling your feet tentatively onto the ice will make it much more likely that you will slip and therefore fall. If you pick your feet up to place them directly upon the hazard, your grip on the ground will be stronger and make it less likely that you slip.
The 2nd DVD of the Building Better Balance series of DVD balance classes teaches you how to pick your feet up and in the process makes your legs feel much lighter to move. Walking becomes much easier.