How are your hammy’s?

Another tool for you, in addition to making sure the gluten are on line, to improve ankle rocker and hip extension.

“This study concludes that neural mobilization techniques are a useful adjunct to static stretching, without any risk of adverse events or injuries. Athletes or trainers can consider using one or both types of neural mobilization techniques to enhance muscular flexibility. Dosage of the neural mobilization as well as the proposed working mechanism behind the increase in hamstring flexibility can be found in the full text of the article.”

Phys Ther Sport. 2016 Jan;17:30-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2015.03.003. Epub 2015 Mar 17.
Short term effectiveness of neural sliders and neural tensioners as an adjunct to static stretching of hamstrings on knee extension angle in healthy individuals: A randomized controlled trial.
Sharma S, Balthillaya G2, Rao R, Mani R .

Screens are valuable. But, only if they screen all the pertinent areas, only if the screener knows what to look for, and only if one realizes they are just a screen and not a platform for corrective exercise prescription. Guys like us and Gray Cook have been saying this for years.

Arm and leg swing gait quiz. Today I combine concepts from my previous quizes ! This one may really put you to the test. 

Two women walking on a sloped beach. They are arm in arm.

Take the principles I have taught you on slope walking, functional leg length differentials to level the pelvis, and arm swing to answer the question.

Here is the question: Are these two more likely to walk “in phase or out of phase”? 

* Do not mistaken the question for anti-phasic or phasic. These are two different concepts. If you are out of the loop on these 4 terms, just search the blog for them. Then come back here to answer this brain thumper.

Make for your case in your head and then scroll down to hear my reasoning for my answer.

This is an EXTREMELY difficult mind bender of a question. You will need to understand the concepts of 2 prior blog posts to even get to the starting line of the solution.  These are the questions I will often pose to myself so that I force the mental gymnastics of gait biomechanics, and quicken my “gait mind” so that I can leave room for processing unique factors in someone’s individual gait. If you have to take time to process the basics, you are gonna run out of time during a consultation and your client will notice you scratching your head. This is a maturation process, you must put in the work that Ivo and I have, if you want to solve the really tough cases. Simple cases are a break, a vacation if you will, they are welcome during a clinic day, but it is the tough cases that make you stretch that truly fulfill your day.  When you are in the clinic, you have to think fast, efficiently and effectively. Recently I had a powerlifter drive from out of state to see me. His case problems were unresolved for many years.  The treating clinician was on the right page, doing a great job actually, but there were so many issues going on that it was hard to see the root of the problem so the case was just being more “managed” than solved. His case was much like this one, all of the findings and factors were related but because I had seen this hodge podge of complaints before (right foot, right knee, left hip, low back, pelvis distortion and a classic Olympic lift compensation fail) so I knew quickly how to piece it all together into a logical solution and find the single spot to focus the therapy, at the root of the problem. My point is that I had done the hard “head scratching” work long ago, so I readily was able to dismiss the distractors and recognize this beast for what it was.  

Back to the two ladies beach walking, I am basing things on a simple assumption that on most beaches the slope gently levels out at the water line, and that the sand several feet up the beach from the water is on a steeper incline, simple tide erosion principles.  Thus, the woman higher up on the beach will be on a steeper slope, this means more beach side leg knee flexion which means less hip extension, meaning a shorter right step length.  This will impair left arm swing, likely shortening it. Less right hip extension will be met by less left arm extension (posterior arm swing behind the body). This often leads to left arm cross over, arm adduction. 

Here is where things get squirrelly. The lady lower on the beach is on a slightly more gentle slope but her issues are the same just muted slightly. So her right beach side leg is in less flexion at the knee and hip, so hip extension is greater and step length will be longer (relative to her friend higher up on the beach). However, she (ocean side lady) is being led by the impaired arm swing, as discussed above, of the lady on the beach side.  That is, if in fact she is being led or if she is the leader. Oy ! There is the brain bender !  

One must consider who is the more corrupting force. In this case, the more corrupting forces will likely trump out the cleaner forces. The ocean side lady is clearly going to have a “more normal” gait with more normal arm and leg swing and step lengths, quite simply the slope she must negotiate is less so there is less corrupting forces on her. The lady on the beach side is having to accomodate more to her greater slope. The lady up the beach is working harder to keep her pelvis level, her eyes and vestiular apparati on the horizon, her differing step lengths from pulling her off from a straight line course, to keep her from falling over (the steeper the slope, the greater the balance challenge to fight from falling into the beach or falling down the slope. Laws of physics say that things roll down hill, so she is fighting this battle while trying to walk a straight line down a sloped beach, with a friends arm in tow).

So, with all that said, one could logically assume that the gal up the beach is definitely working harder, she has greater differing arm and leg swings from side to side, different step lengths, greater struggles with staying up on the slope when gravity wants her to move down the slope, she has more left arm flexion and adduction to help pair with the struggling and perpetual right hip flexion (and loss of right hip extension), she will have to demonstrate more spinal stiffness to deal with these limb girdle torsional differences side to side and a host of other issues I have outlined in these prior “beach walking” quiz posts. Clearly beach side lady is working harder. Thus, just to maintain her gait posturing up on the slope, she will have to dominate the gait. If she gives in to the signals of her ocean side gal, she will have to soften her slope work strategies and she will move down the slope to easier ground. 

Now, back to the question: Are these two more likely to walk “in phase or out of phase”? 

Who truly knows is the answer ! However, we know beach lady is working harder and must continue to do so to stay up on the slope, so her left arm will remain dominant and the ocean side gal will have to accommodate to a very jerky yet cyclically synchronous gait. To walk linked together they will have to find some rhythm. Walking slower will be easier for them to find a harmoniously rhythm. However, one could make the case that “out of phase” gait will be easier (mental image to help you, if they tie ocean side lady’s right ankle to beach side ladies left ankle you will create “out of phase” gait. Thus, the ocean side lady will not mirror her beach side friend. Thus, when beach lady has right leg in extension, ocean side lady will have her left leg in extension. Why? Well, the left arm swing , their point of union, is the trouble zone. With beach side lady having the left arm in more flexion and adduction, the ocean side lady has to accommodate and meet that troubling arm swing. This means her right leg will be in extension at the same time beach side lady has her left leg in extension. This will be more accommodative work for ocean side lady, but she will just have to go with it. Failure to do so will pull her friend down off the beach and making life harder for her friend.

So there you have it. The person up the slope is working harder to stay here, the person down the slope is working harder to accommodate to a gait that their  lower slope is not requiring. Thus, they are both working hard, but for different reasons. But the winner, the dictator, is the one with the greater slope risk. And thus, she will dictate an “out of phase” gait of her ocean side partner, if they are to still walk embraced. 

How did you do ? Can you make a case for “in phase” as the solution ? I can, but I think that “out of phase” is more likely, for the above reasons.

Thanks for playing  this tough one. Congratulations to you if you followed things smoothly. IF you did not, go back and play the mental game again, I think these are important fundamentals everyone should have if you are doing gait work.

Dr. Shawn Allen

What’s wrong with this picture? (Besides the fact that you probably shouldn’t run with your dog on asphalt) 

There’s been a lot of incongruency in the media as of late. This particular gal, with your head rotation to the right is going against the harmony of neurology and physiology. Let me explain…

 This particular gal, with her rotated to the right is going against the way the nervous system is designed to work.

In a post  in the last week or so (the massage cream one and  incongruent movement) we talked about tonic neck responses. When the head is rotated to one side, that upper and lower extremity should extend while the contralateral side should flex. This poor gal is fighting her own neurology! 

 Also note that she really doesn’t have that much hip extension on the right and increases her lumbar lordosis to compensate. Gee whizz. You’d a thought they would have done better…

 So much for the photo op : -) 

“When you run up a hill, most of the cross over gait disappears. Runners will tend toward beautifully stacked lower limb joints.”- Dr. Allen

Are people running up a hill more likely to tend towards a cross over gait style, in other words tend toward a more narrow gait step or a wider gait step ?

Watch people run up hill closely. Even if they are cross over (narrow foot fall) runners, when running up hills a few things will negate much of the narrow foot fall.

1- Running up hill requires more gluteals, more power is needed for all that extra required hip extension to power up the hill. More gluteal max use can, and will, spill over into the posterior fibers of the gluteus medius and this will tend to abduct the leg/hip and reduce some of the cross over tendency.

2- When one runs up a hill, there is a forward pitch of the upper torso, often with a some degree of forward pitch occurring at the hips. More importantly, because one is running up hill, they are stepping up and so more than normal hip flexion is necessary than in normal running. The forward pitch of the body and the greater degree of hip flexion is the culprit here. If the hip/leg is adducted in a cross over style, adding this to a more than normal flexing hip, it will create a scenario for anterior hip impingement and risk of femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) syndromes. Go ahead, test it for yourself. Lie on your back and flex your hip, drawing your knee straight up towards your shoulder.  Pretty good range correct ?  Now, flex the hip drawing your knee towards your navel, adducting it a little across your body. Feel the abrupt range of motion loss and possible pinch in the front of the hip ?  FAI.  This is what would happen if you utilized a cross over gait, narrow foot strike gait. The goes for mountain/sleep hill hikers as well. 

This is why, if you are a narrow foot striker, a near-cross over type of runner, you will see it disappear when you run up hills.  

If you get anterior hip pain running up hills, force a wider step width and reduce the possible impingement at the anterior hip joint. Just make sure you have enough ankle dorsiflexion to tackle the hill in the first place. If not, you may welcome some foot and ankle stuff to the table along with the hip.  

Likely obvious stuff to most of the readers here, but sometimes it is nice to point out the obvious.  Hills, just because they are there, doesn’t mean you have the parts to run them safely.

Dr. Shawn Allen

Podcast 106: Understanding Tendonopathies & Asymmetrical Bone density in athletes.

* Plus the global effects of Hallux Limitus, & Chronic exposure to routine high-impact, gravitational loads afforded to the support limb preferentially improved bone mass and structure

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Other Gait Guys stuff

2 Podcast links:

B. iTunes link:

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:


-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:


Show Notes:

New device to get people with paralysis back on their feet
Scientists have tested the world’s first minimally-invasive brain-machine interface, designed to control an exoskeleton with the power of thought

Splicing out torsions, and aberrant foo types ? Club foot ? etc

Scientists Capture Crispr’s Gene-Cutting in Action

The UK Just Green-Lit Crispr Gene Editing in Human Embryos

Asymmetries in limbs

Tension or compression ?
link to full text:

Concept: the forces have to go somewhere, it is a “passing the buck” system.  
We did this blog post here to explain:

The new muscle discovery !

tendinopathy vasculature:

tendinopathy treatment paper:

“Is your client feeling better because they are truly fixed, or have your prescribed corrective exercises merely raised the capacity and durability of their compensation ?  Welcome to a global industry problem.”  -Dr. Allen

Which hip will have troubles extending ?

Remember this quiz question from 2 weeks ago ? I talked about how the body will compensate to level the pelvis (and eyes and vestibular apparatus).

Lets go further down the rabbit hole.  Here is your question of the week (you may have to go back and review the prior blog post if you are unsure of how the body will cope with the slope.  Here is that first blog post.

Question: Which hip will have troubles getting into hip extension and thus terminal glute-hip-pelvis stabilization ?

Answer:  scroll down (at least think about it for a second)








The leg on the up slope of the beach, the non-water side leg will have to be in a modest degree of knee flexion to shorten and accommodate to the slope. A Flexed knee is not an extended one and it will be far more difficult to extend the hip and get into the glutes. Propulsion will also be compromised.  For you indoor small track runners this will happen to you on the inside leg on the curves of the track. This is why we see so many hamstring injuries during indoor track.  Think about it ! It is not just bad luck.  Go ahead, tally up  your teams history of hamstring injuries, you should find more on the left leg for track runners. It is simple applied biomechanics.   Also, imagine the altered demand on the quadriceps on that flexed knee (the right knee in the picture above, and the left knee in circle track runners). Furthermore, what is the likelihood that the right pelvis will deviate into an anterior tilted posture ? You bet ya, a greater tendency, and thus a possibly shortened quadriceps/hip flexor mechanism.  Do you think this could inhibit hip extension and gluteal function ? You bet ya.  Oh, and one more thing, if you are true gait nerd, you should have asked yourself one more question, what about ankle rocker ?  Yes, you will need more ankle rocker on the beach side foot (flexed knee side). When the knee flexes, there must be more ankle rocker for this to occur, if not, you may implode into some unwelcome arch collapse, because arch collapse offers more false ankle rocker. What a mess huh !   Now, do not be shocked EVER again when your client’s come back from a sunny beach vacation from walking the beaches for hours every day, and find themselves a stark raving mad mess.  It is not the salty ocean air or the tequila, it is the slope. One could make a case that walking up and down the beach should balance things out, but that is only if we are balanced and symmetrical when we start out. Gravity always wins.

One final rant. If you are offering “corrective exercises” to your clients, you had better know at least the basics of movement and biomechanics. And further more, you had better know how to examine for them, and that means hands on assessment of the body, not just looking at how your client moves through a battery of tests. If the prior blog post (here) and today’s blog post principles are not remedial principles of knowledge for you, offering corrective exercises without this knowledge and a physical exam to confirm your assumptions is fraught with disaster, or at least helping your client to build deeper compensations on their prior compensations. Is your client feeling better because they are truly fixed, or have your prescribed corrective exercises merely raised the capacity and durability of their compensation ?  This is the kind of stuff that keeps my new patient scheduling booked at 4-8 weeks out … . .  frustrated clients.

This is why we do not offer online consultations like some do. Because, we have not figured out how to obtain the third dimension needed in our gait and movement observation (thank you Oculus Rift, the future is near) but more so, we cannot take that information and put it together with our own physical examination to determine whether if what we are seeing is the actual problem, or a compensation. Here in lies the pot of gold.

Another clinical pearl from Dr. Allen