Lou Schuler shared this storyi n Silver Sneakers:
I grew up, like so many of my fellow boomers, in fear of turning into my parents. And like so many of us, I used that fear as motivation to eat better, exercise more, use sunscreen, and age as gracefully as possible. But long after my parents’ generation passed the torch to us, I still feel that dread. Not of getting old—I vastly prefer it to the alternative—but of looking old.
That thought came back to me on a recent Saturday morning in the grocery store. It seemed like all the older people pushing carts had a similar side-to-side movement in their hips and shoulders when they walked. As they stepped forward with the right leg, they would lean to the left. On the next step, they’d lean to the right as they moved the left leg.
The walking pattern is so common it has a name: Trendelenburg gait. It’s often seen in older adults who need or have recently undergone a hip replacement, which makes sense since the signature feature is an inability to hold the hips level when walking.
“With women, the pelvis will literally go side to side, like a bell,” says Michael Stare, D.P.T., a physical therapist and owner of Spectrum Fitness Consulting in Beverly, Massachusetts. With men, you’re more likely to notice that their upper torso leans over the supporting leg when the other leg comes off the ground.
You can picture it like this, Stare says: Imagine an elderly couple walking down an extremely narrow hallway that’s just been painted. The woman with Trendelenburg will end up with paint on her hips, while the man with Trendelenburg will have paint on his shoulders. But it’s still the same thing, and it has real consequences.
Fortunately, by doing a few simple exercises regularly, you can help avoid the age-related changes in gait and the problems associated with them. More on that later.