Are Walking Problems Inherited?

by | Nov 3, 2017

What makes you, “you”? When you trace those building blocks back to their source, you’ll find a little bit of nature and a little bit of nurture. Some things are inherited—they’re imported from mom and dad and a part of your genetic makeup. Others you develop over time based on your experience.

Social scientists use “nature versus nurture” when they talk about personalities and temperaments, but the terms apply just as easily to physical traits—and even the way that you walk.

On the one hand, a significant number of common gait abnormalities or structural foot problems that lead to “funny walking” arise in children. Sometimes this is due to an inherited genetic disorder—neurological diseases, for example, or being born with fused bones in the hindfoot. Other times it may be due to the position of the child in the womb. One thing to keep in mind is that many (but not all) childhood walking problems often self-correct over time. Common issues include feet that are turned in, tiptoed walking, knock knees, bowlegs, or a duck-like waddling gait.

On the other hand, a great many walking problems develop over the course of a lifetime as injuries, daily wear and tear, and the gradual loss of muscle strength, flexibility, and bone density take their toll. Any kind of foot pain may cause people to develop poor walking habits, putting joints out of alignment as they compensate for a sore heel or wobbly ankle. One thing can lead to another, too. For example, weakening tendons supporting the arch may lead to the development of flat feet, which in turn alters the biomechanics of your walking stride in a negative way.

Regardless of how or why you (or your child) developed a walking problem, it’s always a good idea to stop by Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists for an evaluation. We are experts in assessing foot deformities and gait problems, with an extra emphasis in children’s foot care. Biomechanical issues that go unaddressed can worsen over time and place more and more stress on your feet, knees, back, and more—but often times, a simple custom orthotic or other conservative treatment protocol can stop the pain before it even begins.

To schedule your appointment with us in Ladera Ranch, CA, please call our office today at (949) 364-9255.