4-H youth and their livestock can help improve the way you walk - part 3

Inversion or walking with your toes pointed slightly inward isn’t ideal and adds stress for both people and livestock.

This article is a continuation of a series by Michigan State University Extension focusing on taking something you learned and finding a different application to it, specifically those that affects your health. Take for instance evaluating and judging livestock. Livestock evaluation uses observation skills to identify positive and negative characteristics in livestock. One trait that is important in selecting good livestock is how they are able to move. An animal that walks smooth and effortlessly is a good indicator of being structurally correct in its skeleton and a sign of good health and longevity.

Once you learn what to look for when evaluating how animals like cattle, sheep and pigs walk, you can then also start to observe and make inferences about the way people, including friends and family members, walk. In this article, we will talk about inversion and the potential stress this may have on the human and animal body. Inversion is essentially walking with your toes slightly pointed inward or toward one another. Kristen Price a certified athletic trainer for Playmakers describes inversion as, “the turning in of the foot which can lead to over supination. With over pronation, there is a tendency to walk on the outer edge of the foot.” In the first article of this series we talked about the ideal walking gait where your toes would be pointed directly in front of you. Inversion is one negative variant of that where your foot over rotates and is placed on the ground with your toes pointed slightly inward instead of straight in front of you. Take a look at your footprint in the snow and the direction your toes are pointed. Ideally when your foot (or hoof) makes contact with ground, it is flush and straight ahead, pointing you in the direction you want to go.

According to Kristen Price, “inversion isn’t as common in people today as eversion. Inversion is potentially caused by muscle imbalances or inflexibilities that often times leads to repetitive stresses and overuse injuries.”

For both people and livestock, walking this way can potentially lead to additional stress on joints and ligaments. “If these structures are repetitively stressed incorrectly, it could potentially lead to joint instability and injury,” she said.

The next article in this series by MSU Extension will discuss over pronation or how the foot (or hoof) makes contact with the ground starting with the heel, and how we move our weight from the heel of the foot to the ball of the foot.

4-H members can choose to learn a lot about observation skills, making inferences, physical health and even livestock judging. If you are interested in learning more about these areas or other learning opportunities 4-H provides, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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