Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Walking Cadence (and that Journal you now have!)

Ever notice you tend to habitually do things at the same rate time after time?  It likely takes a similar amount of time each day to tie a shoe or brush your teeth.  Habits make activities more efficient.

Your walking cadence is likely affected by habit.  You have found a place where you are comfortable and that is your predominant turnover rate.  This is not to say that you don't sometimes walk faster or slower, but this rate is your typical cadence.

Do you know what it is?  If you use a smart phone you can download a simple metronome app.  Use this tool to explore your typical cadence and record it.  Occasionally, check your cadence and if you are really motivated chart it.  Watch for changes and try to understand why those changes have occurred.

As an exercise, try setting the metronome to a small percentage faster than you are used to.  Walk for two minutes (on a level, safe surface) at this pace.  Tune in and see what changes you notice in your gait.  Can you relax and go with the increased rate?  Do you have more trouble turning over one foot than the other?  Are you more stiff?  Can you do it at all???

Over time, play with this exercise.  Try slowing the cadence down and being more deliberate with each foot strike.  Balance issues may enter the picture at some slower rate.  You may notice foot/toe drop or a tendency to "slap" your foot instead of rolling heel to toe.  Can you overcome the foot drop or foot slap if you intentionally slow things down?

Try faster exercises.  Try variable rates.  Advanced:  try marching in place with progressively higher knees.  Walk sideways or backward.

Are you willing to practice all of this - maybe twice per week for 5 or 10 minutes?

As with most things MS,  just because you can't do something today does not automatically mean you can not do it in the future.  Try and try again.  Even if you are not fully mobile, this exercise may still be within reach.  Hold on, use an assistive device, hold someone's arm, slow down and be patient with yourself!

Get out that journal and record your experiences!!  Be mindful of your cadence and be willing to play with your limits.

See the training plan for this post (Cadence on the Training Plans page).

I wish you all the best in testing this one!  Comment below.  We need more voices!!  :)

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