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Looking down does not make your walk safer (no matter what they say)

February 8, 2012

Of course this is just my opinion.  Let me tell you why I think it’s true and see if you agree.

First, before you read any further, tilt your head and look towards the floor, then continue reading..   I’ll wait right here  🙂

OK, did you feel your shoulder start to move forward along with your neck as you looked down?  Your head weighs a lot.  No details on or jokes about brain size here, just take it as your head weighs a lot.  As you tilt forward, that weight starts pulling your upper body with it.

Seeing as old adults are the most likely candidates to use this look at my toes technique, let’s imagine the whole picture.

They are nervous about falling to start with,  so their bodies are tense  (another article later on this).  They are looking at their feet, with their body weight now being pulled forward and down, in front of their feet.  They are taking small steps, often shuffling and really not looking where they are going.

Imagine this as if driving a car and looking at your hood.  You see what is right in front of  you but not what is coming at you, or what you are approaching.  If something were to happen, or be in your way you would not have time to react.

Apply this same principal to walking.  Looking down you see what is right in front of your feet, but not what is ahead.  For example, uneven walkways,  curbs,  any sort of obstacle be it a person, dog, cat, toy, rug or any tripping hazard at all.

Should you stub a toe, or lose your balance due to one of these hazards, because of your looking down and forward weight, the chances of falling are greatly increased.

I teach my senior students  a method of a heel to toe rolling step in combination with an upright stance. Along with this I suggest looking ahead 8 to 10 feet so you can see what is coming at you which give you time to prepare. I also suggest taking a comfortable normal size step instead of the baby steps.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic.

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