Why do we CATCH OUR FEET and STUMBLE? (Walk Talk – Episode 2)

Whew… Tripping or catching your foot happens a lot. Whether it be from throw rugs, to toys or laundry that should have been picked up, to the tree root on the trail that you didn’t quite see… we stumble regularly as we go about our days.

And as a result of these stumbles and subsequent falls, almost 38,000 older adults are sent to the hospital each year. Why is this so common and what can you do to prevent it? That’s what we’re covering in this episode of Walk Talk.

In normal walking, one of our legs is progressing forward in what we refer to as the swing phase of gait. This is when a leg is not in contact with the ground and is swinging forward. Now, there is a moment in time when the foot comes closest to the ground, when the foot is swinging directly underneath you.

Research has found that during this moment, most people’s toes are only 1.5 cm, or about half an inch off of the ground. The reason for this is efficiency, the less we have to raise the leg, the less energy required to walk, but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, right? When we stumble, it is often the result of catching your foot on something, preventing you from moving that leg forward. Take care of those feet!

If we are walking, our body continues to move forward, and then we have to perform a dramatic maneuver in order to get one of our feet in front of us. Most people do this regularly without paying much attention to it.

Let’s take a look at how this should go: Here we have a tripping hazard that we’ve placed on the floor. As the foot gets caught by the weight, instantly the body makes an effort to rise up by going up on the toes of the opposite foot.

This gives the caught foot extra time to clear the obstacle and get forward to prevent a fall. When this fails, we fall. While there are numerous reasons for why one might catch their foot and fall, we’ll explore some of the main highlights.

The first is an unexpected obstacle, such as clothing or toys on the floor, thresholds, loose rugs, or anything that can’t be seen in the dark. We are very reliant on our vision when it comes to balance and walking.

When we can observe an obstacle, our body makes a plan to overcome it, generally by avoiding it all together. If we have vision difficulties, are walking in a dark room, are carrying something, or are otherwise distracted we can be caught off guard and potentially fall over an obstacle.

The second cause for stumbling is weakness. No matter the cause of the weakness, any reduction in strength will make the effort of recovering balance very difficult. As we saw in the slow-motion video, the opposite foot quickly raised the body in order to gain more time to clear the caught foot.

This requires a great deal of strength to perform. For older adults there is a normal decrease in strength that reduces this ability; for those who are less fit, older, or have a diagnosis that results in reduced strength they are unlikely to be able to perform this task.

There are also numerous upper body reactions that require a great deal of strength to help in restoring control after catching the foot. The final point we’ll discuss is that of impaired balance. This one should make sense, but there are a number of reasons that this is an issue.

The first is that those with balance difficulties have a reduced ability to clear obstacles. They don’t have the freedom of movement that those without balance difficulties have available to them. So already these individuals have a higher risk for a fall.

Furthermore, individuals with balance difficulties tend to have a reduced walking speed. This has been associated with a reduction in foot clearance in walking which would set people up for more catching of the foot.

So, if you are in one of these categories what can you do about it? The most important thing you can do is to reduce potential tripping hazards. Ensure that your home is free of obstacles, remove loose rugs and ensure clear walkways.

Avoid walking in dark rooms, use nightlights or turn on lights whenever you enter into a room. Strengthening and balance exercises can improve your ability to overcome a stumble and prevent a fall. A good fitness program can be found either through a personal trainer for simple cases, or through a physical therapist for cases involving a diagnosis that affects your strength or balance.

Falls are not something you want to address after they start happening. Start doing something today to improve your mobility and avoid any injuries now! Thanks for watching this episode of Walk Talk. In our next episode we are going to talk about choosing an assistive device, such as a cane or a walker, so be on the lookout for that video.

If you are new to Mission Gait, check out our website at MissionGait.org. To see more of these videos, you can either click the link in the corner to subscribe or you can visit our YouTube channel at YouTube.

com/missiongait! tripping or catching your foot happens a lot whether it be from throw rugs to toys or laundry that should have been picked up to the tree route on the trail that you didn’t quite see we stumble regularly as we go about our days and as a result of these stumbles and subsequent Falls almost thirty eight thousand older adults are sent to the hospital each year why is this so common and what can you do to prevent it that’s what we’re covering in this episode of walk talk and normal walking one of our legs is progressing forward and what were you referred to as the swing phase of gait this isn’t when a leg is not in contact with the ground and is swinging forward now there is a moment in time when the foot comes closest to the ground when the foot is swinging directly underneath of you it researches found that during this moment most people’s toes are only about one and a half centimeters about half an inch off of the ground the reason for this is efficiency the less we have to raise the leg the less energy required to walk but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for error right when we stumble it is often the result of catching your foot on something preventing you from moving that leg forward if we are walking our body continues to move forward and then we have to perform a dramatic maneuver in order to get one of our feet in front of us most people do this regularly without paying much attention to it let’s take a look at how this should go here we have a tripping hazard that we’ve placed on the floor as the foot gets caught by the weight instantly the body makes an effort to rise up by going on the toes of the opposite foot this gives the foot extra time in order to clear the obstacle and get forward to prevent a fall when this fails we fall well there are numerous reasons for why one might catch their foot and fall we’ll explore some of the main highlights the first is an unexpected obstacle such as clothing or toys on the floor thresholds loose rugs or anything that can’t be seen in the dark we are very reliant on our vision when it comes to balance and walking and when we can observe an obstacle our body makes a plan to overcome it generally by avoiding it all together if we have vision difficulties or walking in a dark room or carrying something or our otherwise distracted we can be caught off guard and potentially fall over an obstacle the second cause for stumbling is weakness no matter the cause of the weakness any reduction in strength will make the effort of recovering balance very difficult as we saw in the slow-motion video the opposite foot quickly raised the body and/or to gain more time to clear the clock foot and this requires a great deal of strength to perform for older adults there is a normal decrease in strength that reduces the stability and for those who are less fit older or have a diagnosis that results in reduced strength they’re unlikely to be able to perform this task there are also numerous upper-body reactions that require a great deal of strength to help in restoring control after catching the foot the final point that we’ll discuss is that of impaired balance this one should make sense but there are a number of reasons that this is an issue the first is that those with balance difficulties have reduced ability to clear obstacles they don’t have the freedom of movement that those without balance difficulties have available to them so already these individuals have a higher risk for a fall furthermore individuals with balance difficulties tend to have a reduced walking speed and this has been associated with a reduction in foot clearance in walking which would set people up for more catching of the foot so if you’re in one of these categories what can you do about it the most important thing you can do is to reduce potential tripping hazards ensure that your home is free of obstacles remove loose rugs and ensure clear walkways avoid walking in dark rooms by using night lights or turn on lights whenever you enter into a room strengthening and balance exercises can improve your ability to overcome a stumble and prevent a fall a good fitness program can be found either through a personal trainer for simple cases or through a physical therapist for cases involving a diagnosis that affects your strength or balance Falls are not something you want to address after they start happening start doing something today to improve your mobility and avoid any injuries now thanks for watching this episode of walk talk in our next episode we were going to talk about choosing an assistive device such as a cane or a walker so be on the lookout for that video if you’re new to Mission Gate check out our website at Mission Gate org and to see more of these videos you can either click the link in the corner to subscribe or visit our YouTube channel at youtube.

Source : Youtube

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