4-H youth and their livestock can help improve the way you walk - part 2

Eversion or walking with your toes pointed slightly out is one common issue for both people and livestock.

According to Michigan State University Extension, the topics covered in school or from a book can often times be applied in other areas of our life that we would have never image. One topic, for instance, is evaluating and judging livestock. Even though you may not know exactly what that entails, livestock evaluation really is using observation skills to identify positive and negative characteristics in livestock and then ranking the animals based on the sum of those positive characteristics. One trait that is important in selecting good livestock is how they are able to move. An animal that can walk smooth and effortlessly is a good indicator of being structurally correct in its skeletal make up and a sign of good health and longevity.''

Once you eventually 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, even friends and family members, walk. In this article, MSU Extension will talk about eversion and the potential stress this may have on the human and animal body. Eversion is essentially walking with your toes slightly pointed out or away from your body. Kristen Price a certified athletic trainer for Playmakers and describes eversion as, “the slight pointing out of your toes, which could lead to foot over pronation or inward rolling of the foot. Over pronation could lead to added stress on the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back”.

This article has covered the basics about the ideal walking gait where your toes would be pointed directly in front of you. Eversion is one negative variant of that where your foot is placed on the ground before it has completely rotated. This leaves your toes pointed slightly outward instead of straight in front of you. For the golfers out there, one analogy would be the golf swing. Ideally, you would rotate your club so the face of the club is flush when you contact the ball. If you don’t rotate the club enough, the face of the club is still slightly open when you make contact with the ball. Your golf shot will likely veer to the right. Take a look at your footprint in the snow (which is easy to do now during a Michigan winter). Look at the direction your toes are pointed. If your toes are pointed out when your foot makes contact with the ground your toes are probably pointed in the direction that golf ball would land, not straight ahead. Ideally, when your foot (or an animal’s hoof) makes contact with the ground, it is flush and straight ahead, pointing you in the direction you want to go.

According to Kristen Price, it has become more typical for humans to walk with an eversion. “This is potentially due to muscle imbalance or inflexibilities often occurring in the foot, ankle or hips,” Price said.  

For both people and livestock, “walking this way can potentially lead to additional stress on joints and ligaments which could lead to overuse injuries,” She said.

The next article in this series will discuss inversion or walking with your toes (or hooves) pointed slightly inward and implications on physical stress and health for both you and your livestock.

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, visit MSU Extension or Michigan 4-H for more information.

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