Exercises to avoid bad gait

Avoiding Trendelenburg gait (how many older people walk)

Exercise #1: Single-Leg Step-Over

“This exercise is one step removed from walking,” Stare explains. “It makes you more conscious of what you want to do when you walk.”

How to do it: Like the self-test, you want to do this one in front of a mirror. Roll up a small towel, and place it perpendicular to the instep of your right foot. If your feet are shoulder-width apart, the towel basically connects the insteps of both feet. Put your hands on your hips. Lift your left foot, and tap your toes on the floor in front of the towel. Keep your weight entirely on your right leg and your hips level.

Immediately lift your foot again, and tap it on the floor behind the towel. Alternate between tapping in front of and behind the towel for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Sets, reps, and frequency: “Doing something daily is the best way to learn,” Stare says. If you struggled with the self-test, you can try step-overs multiple times per day. “You can do it once a day or 20 times a day, and it’s not likely to cause any problems. The more you do it, the more you change your habits and improve your motor control.”

Exercise #2: Side Plank

If you work out in a gym, you’ve seen lots of people doing side planks, and if you work out with a trainer, you’ve probably done your share. They’re popular for a reason: They work everything on the side that’s supporting your weight, especially the core muscles in your hips, abs, and lower back. That means they also work the gluteus medius, Stare says.

How to do it: Set up on a mat or towel with your weight resting on your right forearm and the outside edge of your right foot. Set your left foot on top of your right. Lift your body so it forms a straight line from neck to heels. Rest your left hand on your right shoulder, or place it gently on the floor for support. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, switch sides, and repeat. If you can’t quite do 30 seconds, hold as long as you can.

Sets, reps, and frequency: Do up to three sets of 30 to 60 seconds per side. You can do them every day. If that’s unrealistic, shoot for a minimum of three times per week.

Exercise #3: Single-Leg Squat

It works the whole lower body on the side of the working leg—from the foot to the calf, thigh, and hip—along with the core muscles. The gluteus maximus and medius work especially hard when all your load is on that side of your body, plus you also improve the stability of your ankles and hips.

How to do it: Stand with your back to a chair or bench with your heels a few inches away from it. Cross your arms over your chest, and lift your left leg off the floor. If that’s too difficult, keep your left foot on the floor but shift your weight to your right leg. Tighten everything in your torso, and carefully push your hips back. Lower your body until your glutes touch the chair or bench behind you. Push through your feet to stand back up. That’s one rep. Do four or five reps, switch sides, and repeat.

Sets, reps, and frequency: Aim for three sets of four to five reps per leg. Try it three times per week on nonconsecutive days. If you’re stronger and more ambitious, you can work up to 15 reps per set.

Tip: If you are new to squats or working on mastering the basic squat, you can use a chair for support and to learn good form. Watch this video for a step-by-step demonstration.

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