Foot placement matters. We have repeatedly beaten this topic in our dialogues on “the cross over gait” for years now.
Lack of Stability often, if perhaps not always, limits mobility.
Mediolateral stability can be efficiently controlled through appropriate foot placement. This study hypothesized that humans control mediolateral foot placement through swing leg muscle activity, basing this control on the mechanical state of the contralateral stance leg. Thus, obviously, if thestance phase limb has sensory-motor deficiencies, which might be easily translated into “balance” or control issues in single leg stance evaluation, this will impact the swing leg and thus subsequent foot placement.
In this study, “During Unperturbed walking, greater swing-phase gluteus medius (GM) activity was associated with more lateral foot placement.”
“The Perturbed walking results indicated a causal relationship between stance leg mechanics and swing-phase GM activity. Perturbations that reduced the mediolateral CoM displacement from the stance foot caused reductions in swing-phase GM activity and more medial foot placement."
The swing leg is taking cues from the stance leg mechanics. If stance phase has challenges, the swing limb will be forced to accommodate and adapt, and that means altered foot placement.
Once again, remember, (broken record moment)……. "what you see is not your client’s problem, it is their strategy to get around/compensate for the problem”. Don’t you dare correct your client’s foot placement without examining why they are doing what they are doing. Get to the root of the problem you are “seeing”.
-Dr. Shawn Allen