Walking exercises help develop the way you walk or maintain a functional walking pattern. According to a May 2003 study "Clinical Rehabilitation," conducted by Hiroyuki Shimada, MD, of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, performing walking exercises improves walking patterns in the elderly within 12 weeks. Fragile older participants who performed the marching exercises for 40 minutes two or three times a week showed greater dynamic balance and functional improvement of gait than a separate group, which only did balance exercises.
Walking exercises can help improve the progress of a variety of abnormal walking conditions. The exercises especially encourage the spastic gait that occurs with the rigidity of only one side, which produces a shuffling walk. People with the propulsion gear have a stationary and rigid posture with the head and neck bent forward. Walking with the knees slightly bent and the hips is known as the scissor gear, since the knees and thighs intersect in a scissor movement. The step march occurs when the foot is blocked and the toes point down, which causes the fingers to scratch the ground. Duck walking causes exaggerated side-to-side torso movements due to insufficient hip stabilization.
The objective of the running exercises is a functional walking pattern. You must have an adequate range of joint mobility, which allows the joints to move the muscles through a sufficient range of movement to walk. The aim of the gait exercises is to improve the muscle activation time, which implies the time intervals that occur between the contact between each heel and the ground. Functional walking patterns also depend on impeccable input from multiple sensory systems, including visual, somatosensory and vestibular systems.
Gait exercises primarily work the target muscles that are responsible for walking. The deficiencies of these muscles can contribute to a variety of gait abnormalities. The hip extensors, including the buttocks and the hamstring muscles, are responsible for straightening the hip joint when walking. The quadriceps are the most prominent knee extensors, which allows the legs to straighten. Muscles of the calf, such as soleus and gastrocnemius, are responsible for the plantar flexion that occurs while rolling on the forefoot with each step. The dorsal flexor muscles, which are found in the shins, flex the ankle and the point of the top of the foot upward each time you step forward.
Walking exercises include a variety of significant resistance and swaying movements for walking. Standing on one leg while lifting a knee weighted to the hips strengthens the muscles responsible for moving the thigh forward when walking. Leg extension movements involve straightening the legs against the resistance, while you are in a sitting position. Placing a resistance band above or below the front of your foot adds resistance to dorsiflexion and plantar flexion movements, respectively. The movements of the exercises for gait balance include walking. Moving your head to the left and right, looking up and down or tipping from side to side while walking also helps to improve balance and support a functional gait.