Crouched Walking Practice to Improve Gait: The Benefits of Crouched Gait in Stroke Survivors

Jul 3, 2024

 

Stroke survivors often face significant challenges in regaining mobility and functionality. Among the various rehabilitation strategies, gait training is critical. Recent research highlights the potential benefits of slow-speed crouch gait compared to upright gait, showing improved symmetry between the affected and unaffected hip in terms of work, peak power, and muscle activation.

Study Insights

One pivotal study focused on stroke survivors demonstrated that slow-speed crouch gait led to higher symmetry in the hips. This increased symmetry is essential for balanced and efficient movement, as it ensures that both sides of the body contribute equally to the walking process (1). 

In another study, participants underwent six sessions of physical therapy that included crouched overground gait practice and proprioceptive training in standing crouched positions. They were also encouraged to practice this gait pattern at home. The results were promising, with a significant reduction in average knee hyperextension during gait—from 8.7° to 3.9°. This reduction is crucial, as knee hyperextension can lead to joint damage and pain over time (2).

Muscle Activation and Intensity

Crouched walking results in increased muscle activation in all studied muscles except the medial gastrocnemius (3). For some muscles, the activation levels were comparable to running at 6.7 mph or walking up a 21° incline. This indicates that crouched walking can be a highly effective way to enhance muscle strength and endurance, which are vital for improving overall gait and mobility.

Practical Applications

Crouched walking can be an accessible way to add variability and increase intensity during gait training. This method can address mild knee hyperextension during gait and strengthen most lower extremity muscles important to the gait cycle. For stroke survivors, incorporating crouched walking into their rehabilitation routine can provide a low-impact, high-reward strategy to improve their walking mechanics and overall mobility.

Continuing Education and Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about a systematic paradigm to effectively analyze and treat any complex gait disorder, our continuing education course, “Gait Rehabilitation – Core Concepts and Treatment Strategies,” is available anytime. Check out our website for more information!

For those looking for exercises to improve their walking, our YouTube channel offers an entire library of instructional videos designed to help you on your journey to better mobility.

Conclusion

The studies discussed here underscore the importance of innovative approaches like crouch gait in stroke rehabilitation. By focusing on techniques that enhance symmetry, reduce knee hyperextension, and increase muscle activation, stroke survivors can achieve more effective and efficient gait patterns, ultimately leading to improved quality of life. Embrace these strategies and resources to optimize your rehabilitation journey.

References

  1. Tesio L, Rota V, Malloggi C, Brugliera L, Catino L. Crouch gait can be an effective form of forced-use/no constraint exercise for the paretic lower limb in stroke. Int J Rehabil Res. 2017;40(3):254-267. doi:10.1097/MRR.0000000000000236
  2. Dalal KK, Joshua AM, Nayak A, Mithra P, Misri Z, Unnikrishnan B. Effectiveness of prowling with proprioceptive training on knee hyperextension among stroke subjects using videographic observation- a randomized controlled trial. Gait Posture. 2018;61:232-237. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.01.018
  3. Hora M, Struška M, Matějovská Z, Kubový P, Sládek V. Muscle activity during crouched walking. Am J Biol Anthropol. 2024;183(1):79-91. doi:10.1002/ajpa.24834. Licensed by CC BY 4.0