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The movement of the hips is the primary source of forward locomotion provided by the body. By rotating the hips forward (in a transverse plane parallel to the ground,) the rear leg is pulled off the ground. The hips act like a motor, accelerating the knee and foot forwards. In the later movements of the swing phase, the knee reaches a position forward of the hip. At ground contact, the heel is slightly forward of the knee.

WATCH FOR: Excessive hip drop. Athletic walking technique stresses hip rotation without much vertical movement of the hip joint.

WATCH FOR: Excessive lateral hip motion. If the hips move from side to side, the body’s center of gravity will move with them. This will slow forward movement & waste energy.


Correct hip action leads to increased stride length. (see above)

This will also lead to correct foot placement along a straight line (see below)

Insufficient hip rotation or limited flexibility in the pelvis may lead to foot placement on either side of a straight line (see below)

An athletic walker should not attempt to increase stride length by reaching out too far in front of their body using their foot, this will cause over striding. An athletic walker should visualize their hips leading their legs and feet. Increasing the speed of their hips will directly increase the speed of their legs.

As a individual learns to walk athletically, the increased use of the hips will cause their feet to land in almost an exact straight line. Be aware, if a non-athletic walker attempts to mimic this foot placement without proper hip motion, they will place an unneeded stress across their knee.

Ideal foot placement has an athletic walker’s feet pointing straight ahead. Some people's foot placement will naturally point out or in because of the way they are built. These walkers should not try to change their foot placement. By using their hips properly, their foot falls will occur in a straight line, but their feet will not be parallel. While this is less efficient, forcing the straightening of foot placement may cause stress on the legs, feet, and knees. The following figures show the foot placement of a walker who is landing with their toes pointed in and with their toes pointed out. (See below)

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