While it might be unusual to find a 5K race that encourages participants to “dress like a diva and sashay away,” this diva-style walk is noticeably present on runways, red carpets, and wherever confident women can be found. While the debate rages over whether divas are defined as being annoyingly sassy or enviably classy, their manner of movement may be less-than-ideal.
According to the Urban Dictionary, to sashay is “to walk or glide in a diagonal or sideways manner. To strut or move about in an ostentatious or conspicuous manner.” This is typically done by exaggerating the movements of the hips and shoulders. Whatever your opinion of sashaying divas from a personal perspective, from a physiological perspective, they’re not making the wisest choices — particularly for their lower backs.
While some women’s bodies may naturally sway in a sashay-like way, the danger is primarily an issue for those whose diva walks are learned or forced. Basically, the issue is that the pelvis is abruptly over-shifting from side to side, rather than remaining in a horizontal position. When the pelvis remains horizontal, as it does with a normal walking style, the outer muscles of the hip assist in stability, while vertebrae rotate and side-bend to allow the leg to advance forward. With a sashay, the pelvis is forced too far to the side, forcing the hip abductor muscles into a lengthened, stressed position. In addition, the pelvis tips up excessively to one side, forcing parts of the lower back to side-bend and rotate more than usual. Of course, this scenario increases stress to the lower back.
Over years, a person’s sashay can actually cause the spinal segments of the lower back to become worn. Chronic hip muscle weakness can cause pain in the hip, chronic back pain, and possibly disc herniation. Patients suffering from the results of a long-term sashay must often include strengthening exercises for hip abductors, buttocks, and abdominals within their recovery regimen. In addition, though, changing the problematic walking mechanics is necessary to eliminate the source of the problems.
Controlling one’s gait, or “walking quietly,” can be difficult for those who have exaggerated their pelvic movements for years. Sometimes it helps them to place their hands on their pelvises in order to make them more aware of pelvic movement. The next step is to contract the deep abdominals, drawing the belly button back toward the spine, in order to provide fuller stability. In time, the more conservative movements can become second nature, just like the sashay once was.
Diva or not, if you’re dealing with lower back pain, you could benefit from a thorough evaluation of your walking mechanics or any other mechanical or postural problem with our Physiolab Evaluation. By following an expert physical therapist’s recommendations, you can enjoy the freedom from pain that comes with overall joint and muscle health.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website at www.PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.