The Walking Company is one of my favorite places to buy shoes because the stores have great shoes and knowledgeable staff. I approached the manager with an idea I’d been mulling over for awhile. The Walking Company has this cool machine that shows the distribution of weight on your feet in a digital image. I wanted to observe the difference between when I stood normally and when I stood with a heavy backpack on one shoulder. Check it out.
In this first image you’ll see that the red shown in the balls of the feet appear more on the right. This is my normal stance. The red indicates the areas of greatest pressure while standing. Bill Vogt, the store manager, was cautious about letting me stand on the sensor pads with a heavy backpack on my shoulder because the machine is so sensitive it can crash and be out of commission for a couple of days (which can equal loss of sales for the store). So I had to use a fairly light backpack. What I expected to see was greater areas of red (pressure) on the side of the added weight. See what you notice in this second image.
What we see instead is that the body shifted weight to the left to compensate for weight on the right. The body is amazing, organizing itself around the idea of balance and equilibrium.We all know we can not live life completely balanced at all times, but when we have choices to carry loads in a more balanced or less balanced manner, it’s always advisable to choose balance. One specific example comes to mind: carrying a child on the hip. Everyone always says be sure to alternate the side you carry your kid on, or to carry them in front packs, backpacks or slings. I say “yes, all of the above.” Just keep mixing it up or you’ll find imbalances both above and below (shoulders & neck to the north; low back, knees, feet to the south).
Thanks for coming along on my field trip! A big shout out to Bill Vogt and Niya Monrole at the Santa Anita Mall Walking Company store for helping me with this illustration and for some great new shoes.