Thriving Blog & Magazine
Grounding – Connection to Gait – Part 2
Julie Blandin

Hopefully you are following our discussion about the valuable principle of grounding.

What’s cool is our natural gait cycle is mechanically sound to help us ground ourselves to improve our internal physiology and system function. Unfortunately, many people have lost the reciprocity to exchange a rhythm between the right and left halves of the body nor do they understand how to rotate properly through their trunk or pelvis without compensation.

In the natural gait cycle:

    • 60% of gait has the capacity to mechanical ground us when proper stance muscles are used and phases of loading through stance phase are executed and coordinated properly though our hip complex and ribcage.
    • 40% of the gait should be swing where the extremity is elevated into free space and the foot is not in contact with the ground.

Unfortunately most people do not walk or run with a natural gait pattern nor use all of the stance musculature effectively. Along with breathing, balancing gait is a high priority in our clinic. It is amazing, when the movement system learns how to ground properly on the right and left sides of the body symptoms are 99.99% of the time eliminated.  Too many people walk or run in a compensatory, asymmetrical or imbalanced gait pattern and it is truly becoming an epidemic and too often overlooked by many medical and health practitioners.

A connection to the ground gives input to the brain we are stable and limits the need for reflexive neuro extension movement compensation. While grounding may seem obvious with closed chain activities, where feet or hands seem to be against a surface, or with compound movements like a squat or deadlift, we often see lack of engaged grounding where appropriate push muscles are not active. Proper grounded requires proper co-activity from multiple muscle groups and if the movement pattern is quad or knee dominant – guess what? they movement system is not grounded and instead using extension mechanisms to execute the movement.

Facilitating this connection to the ground is one of the reason many of the activities we do in the clinic have feet on a wall or box. For example in a 90-90 activity, feet are pressing into the wall and digging downward, if the client is truly grounding we shouldn’t be able to move their feet. Same thing in sidelying, half kneeling, and any other position.

‘Inactive’ grounding is generally associated with extension tone dominance and inability to develop proper strategies to oppose and control muscles needed for proper joint centric relation. ‘Inactive’ grounding and a poorly grounded base of support encourages the use of compensatory ‘holding patterns’ (i.e. respiratory patterns – breath holding, apical extension breathing, and excessive ab bracing) around the center or core limiting effective patterns of axial control. Tri-planar co-activation of stabilizing muscles through the proximal limb girdles provides proper centric relation and better control of a limb in weighted single leg stance. This stable and neutral joint alignment builds positive support reactions through the limb in weight bearing and decreases over-reliance on capsuloligamentous structures and the tendancy to lock out into extension to get stable.

Thanks for reading Grounding Part 2! Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 3!

Thriving Magazine September 2022 Issue 15

September Thriving Magazine • Issue 15

September is Self Care Awareness Month and our September issue of Thriving magazine is focused on just that… With an emphasis on setting yourself up for aging with vitality. The choices we make today will have a huge impact on our future selves, and we want to help you lead healthy, strong and energetic lives. Enjoy!

Articles are written by our experts in physical therapy, fitness training, chiropractic care. nutrition, massage, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and energy healing.