Components to be aware of during the “Bouncy Gait”.

Written by Dr. Shawn Allen

First, goto the bottom right of this video and click the “settings” wheel and slow the video as much as possible so you can see what is going on more clearly. There are many issues here, but lets focus on just one today.

Secondly, this gait would never happen in a real person for any reason we can think of or for any gait pathology to compensate around. It is not possible but it is fun to watch.  But what we want to bring to light is the vertical head movements because this is not healthy and in a real person, with a true vertical gait (we call it the Bouncy gait) it could create some problems. 

Most often when you see the vertical bouncy gait it is because someone has impaired ankle rocker (dorsiflexion) range.  Clearly, we do not see this in this video, instead we see just the opposite, an insanely large ankle rocker and tons of glute and quad loads are theorized. In true vertical gaits however, where ankle rocker is impaired, those folks hit the sagittal limit of the dorsiflexion range at the ankle and have no choice but to go vertical (ie. progress into premature heel rise and premature calf contraction) to move the body mass forward.  Incidentally, this will buy them more dorsiflexion range again, however too little too late most of the time. This puts untimely and undue load on the calf compartment and can lead to a plethora of knee, ankle and foot functional pathologies that we will not go into here at this time. (hint, achilles tendonopathy, anterior and posterior “shin splints”, foot stress responses/fractures, neuromas, hammer toes, bunions and the list goes on. This by no means this is the cause for all of these issues, not in the least, however, case by case we can create a logical path to these from a vertical gait response.)

Know your normal gait and you can pick apart pathological gaits. Just remember, what you see in their gait is not their problem, it is their strategy around the problem. 

Keep all of this in mind when you think about vertical gaits because even though there are build in stabilization mechanisms to cortically “hold the world still” while we move through it, the control of the head requires a harmonious dialogue between the eyes, vestibular centers and postural/proprioceptive mechanisms to maintain equilibrium.  When these centers do not synchronize we have major problems with balance and locomotion, and brain function goes south. So when you see a wonky gait and everything else seems to check out, do not forget the eyes and vestibular centers, at the very least.

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

1. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2008 Nov 17;5:30. doi: 10.1186/1743-0003-5-30.Control of the upper body accelerations in young and elderly women during level walking.Mazzà C1, Iosa M, Pecoraro F, Cappozzo A.

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