– Stride Length & Symmetry / Reciprocal Arm Swing

(see videos below)

A shuffling gait is often observed in the PD population. This type of gait indicates an uneven or asymmetrical gait pattern which increases fall risk. To realize optimal gait and reduce fall risk, we need to have symmetrical stride length and symmetry.

Additionally, we often see people with PD who have difficulty walking in a straight line. Stride issues and other complications often cause swerving and increase fall risk. Once we start moving, it may take a combination of things to improve the gait pattern. Let’s have a look at a few strategies we have found to be helpful:

Creating a symmetrical rhythmical stride (losing the shuffle):

Music: Again, think of or turn on your music player and listen to a song with a beat or pulse somewhere in the 80-120 beats per minute range. Feel the pulse, then imagine walking to that beat. Once you start moving, walk to the beat of the song. This will help create a symmetrical stride

Metronome: Walk to the beat of a metronome

Marching: Again, think of what it is to march, and in your mind or out loud (think of a marching type song or tempo), say “left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right” – STEP and then keep walking to this marching rhythm.

Creating an even stride length:

Targets: So far, we have found that the use of evenly spaced targets like agility dots or pieces of tape work best to create an even stride length.

Special note: Spacing of the targets will vary from person to person and can generally be based on their gait assessment. Start with targets spaced closer together, and gradually work towards increasing the spacing to work towards a longer stride length. Be careful not to space targets too far apart. This will cause gait issues and increase fall risk.

Walking in a straight line:

Targets: The use of targets placed on the floor in a straight line will help to walk in a straight line

Walking a line: We have found that many people do very well when focusing on following a straight line, such as:
• A line that separates rows of tiles on a floor
• A line that separates pieces of wood on a surface with hardwood floors
• A line on a sidewalk separating sections of poured cement
• A line created by a coach or trainer during a training session, for example, tape, rope, or other items placed on the floor in a straight line for the client to follow

Agility dots spaced to create even stride

Notice the difference in stride with several people prior to arriving at the dots vs. when using the dots

More examples using agility dots to even out stride.

Reciprocal arm swing

Reciprocal arm swing (including observation of trunk and hip rotation during gait) is an integral part of optimizing gait. In the videos above, you’ll see most people attempting to perform reciprocal arm swing. We had been ceuing them for that already.

In the videos below, we are focusing on reciprocal arm swing, including trunk and hip rotation. We call it “Walk like a badass.” Have a look.

Movements from this gentleman are highly exaggerated, but that’s an important component of training people with PD. Exaggerated movement helps to retrain the brain and cause us to walk better.

Notice that the agility dots are gone. We are focusing on arm swing and trunk/hip rotation. It’s not only effective, but it’s FUN!

Tandem Arm Swing

This is one of our favorite and most effective methods to help a person get the “feel” of what it’s like to walk with reciprocal arm swing.

Huntington, New York

Huntington, New York

Rochester, England