(B) Understanding the System
B2. Dispelling the Step Length Myth
Differences in step length for the left and right feet can not lead, by
themselves, to path deviation.
When a person takes a 20 in. step with
the left foot, as they walk the right leg has to be brought up to and then
pass the left foot. This action I have termed the "carry".
the left foot takes a 20 in. step, the right foot is "carried" for 20 in.
Then, the right foot moves forward with a step of 15 in., followed by the 15
in. carry of the left foot. The total distance moved forward by each foot is
not just the 20 or 15 in. step, but also includes the corresponding carry.
For one full stride, the left foot would move forward by a step of 20 in.
PLUS a carry of 15 in., for total of 35 in., and the right moves forward
with a carry of 20 in. PLUS a step of 15 in., for a total of 35 in.
Disregarding the carry is the critical error which leads to the confusion.
The carry equalizes the total distance traveled for each foot.
walking with extremely exaggerated differences in the left and right step
length (eg. left-25 in. and right-2 in.). If step length had anything to do
with direction, after 1 or 2 strides you should be pointing off of the
straight line. You don't because the carry of 2 in. for the left step and 25
in. for the right step means the total distance traveled is still 27 in. for
both feet. (Stride = carry + step)
Try this. Draw two lines on
the floor. Make them parallel and at a distance apart that is comfortable
when you walk, your normal walking base. Now step on the lines. Take a few
steps, keeping each foot to its line. This is the normal starting point for
all of the discussions that I have seen. This is a person who is walking
straight. Do you agree?
Now, while keeping your feet on the lines,
walk along it with any combination of step lengths that you like. Look at
the lines, or not, as long as you keep stepping on them. Have you stepped
off the line at the end of the room? No, you haven’t.
that the lines are in a room that is twice as long as the first one. And do
the same thing, taking whatever step lengths you want for each foot (try 0”
step length with one of the feet, or 2”). At the end of that room, did you
step off the line? No, you didn’t.
Do you think that at the end of a
room a million times longer you would be off the line? No, you wouldn’t.
Because that’s not how humans change direction when they walk. It just
doesn’t happen that way. If step length had anything to do with direction,
whether we’re controlling the step lengths or not is irrelevant, the result
on path characteristics would be the same.
It’s said that the height
of foolishness is to continue to do exactly the same thing while each time
expecting something different to happen.
The only way to deviate from
the straight path is for one or the other foot to be placed off of the
straight line during the step.
SO THEN, “WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF PATH DEVIATION?”
The study of path
deviation is the study of direction changes during walking.
step there are 4 possible direction changes, in this order: 1) aberration,
2) push-off angle, and 3) and 4) foot offset and foot angle occur at the
That means 8 potential direction changes per stride. These
changes almost certainly won't be equivalent.
Each relevant part of
the body contributes it's direction change to the step, and each step
contributes its direction change to the body DOT. It’s the summation of the
changes that determine overall direction. For example, if each left step
gave a 2 deg turn left, and each right step gave a 2 deg turn to the right,
the person would be walking straight, but turning with each step.
If the net direction change over a stride is zero, the person will be
walking straight (ie. measured equality of stride lines), even if they’re
turning with each step. (How a person is walking straight is also critical
to the overall path characteristics.)
If the left gave 3 deg left and
the right 2 deg right, the person would be turning left at 1 deg per stride,
and would be at 90 deg to the original DOT in 90 strides.
For a 30”
normal step with a 15” step-out line, an increase in foot angle of only 2
deg for one foot will cause a person to go at 90 deg to the original DOT in
45 strides, or about 40 yds. The same deviation occurs with a 1/2” foot
offset. That’s barely perceptible.
So, when a person deviates from a
straight line, the exact path is a line punctuated by angle changes at each
step, rather than a smooth curve, and the exact characteristics depends on
how all the parameters are being manipulated in each step.
Part I Part II