Have you ever seen someone walking and thought “Wow, it looks like they’ve got a stick up their [backside]?” You may joke about that person’s probable lack of ability on the dance floor or make any number of other assumptions, but the thing is you can’t be sure about any of those things. The only thing you can be sure of is that they don’t have enough wiggle in their walk. In other words, their hips don’t have the proper side to side movement that we associate with walking.
No movement at all is an extreme example, so I’m sure you don’t look like that when you walk. But all the same, you probably don’t have enough hip movement. How do I know? Because most people don’t.
So what happens to the body when things that should move, don’t? If you said “Compensation,” you’d be right. Either other muscles are going to tighten up to protect the area that isn’t moving, or smaller muscles that are only designed to assist with the movement will fully engage and attempt to do it all themselves. This will, of course, wear out the helper muscles and probably create some pain as well.
When the hips don’t move the way they’re supposed to, the shoulders won’t move the way they’re supposed to. Then the neck and arms start to get involved, and somewhere in there, your back may start to feel all jacked up as well. That’s because the shoulders and hips work together as part of the gait cycle (the way the body moves when we walk). If one isn’t working correctly, neither will the other, and neither will the areas between or connected to them. This domino effect can explain a lot of otherwise “unexplained” pain and dysfunction in the body.
A few months ago I was at the grocery store and found myself in an aisle behind a woman who was walking kinda slow and really moving her hips from side to side. My knee jerk reaction was, “well she thinks she’s hot [stuff] doesn’t she?” When I turned down the next aisle, there she was. Her hips swaying dramatically. Boom. Ba-Boom. Ba-Boom. Ba-Boom. “Who is she trying to impress?” I wondered.
She seemed to be shopping with her significant other and they didn’t seem to be in any sort of hurry. They were just shopping and talking. She seemed completely comfortable and at ease in her body and didn’t have the self-conscious look that most women do when they’re trying to walk in a sexy manner. Then it hit me. She wasn’t moving her hips, as in adding an intentional sway to attract attention; her hips were simply moving within their natural range of motion more fully than I was used to seeing.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most people don’t have full movement in their hips when they walk. I wondered why. Here are a few of the physical reasons I came up with:
But what about my knee jerk reaction? I think many of us, whether it’s intentional or subconscious, try to not have too much swing in our hips for fear of being judged in the way I judged the woman in the grocery store. Here are two reasons why:
I’ve been doing a bit of an experiment for the past few months to get some of the wiggle back in my own walk.
Here’s what I’ve found:
Now I want to hear from you. Do you think you have enough wiggle in your walk? If not, what’s your plan to get it back?