Why do some people waddle side to side?


I looked this up and got no real good answer so I am asking Veritascures:  I have a friend who is 10 years younger than I am.  She is overweight. (I actually notice toddling more when people are overweight) Instead of walking one foot in front of the other she appears to walk from side to side. I noticed one of my property renters, Stephen, does the same.  Their bodies seem to go on a slight angle.when they take a step.   When one walks naturally, there seems to be very little space between your feet.  One should be able to walk a straight line.  When these people are walking side to side it seems like they are not being propelled forward.  It is very perplexing to watch. 


Is this a condition due to a health issue, overweight, etc., or can it be corrected?


It’s the length of the legs moving the center of gravity upward.  The shorter the legs even though a body’s center of gravity is lower to the ground which makes for a seemingly more stable disposition, the more sideways sway occurs.  The longer a person’s legs, the smoother that person moves without any waddle with exception to hip movement.   This explains why a midget or dwarf having unusually short limbs and even a fitting weight has a natural eccentric waddle.


An experiment you can try to demonstrate how mass and inertia feels is to take just the wheel of a bicycle, hold it in front of you while it’s spinning, and attempt to move the wheel off its axis. The momentum of the spin prevents you to do this. The slower the spin, the easier it is to move side to side. This is why when one learns to cycle, there is a balance. Both bicycle wheels as they spin actually keep the unit vertical and it refuses to tip left or right. Standing still is a different story which calls for a kick stand. it’s why one can push a bike without anyone on it and it will go until it slows.. then it topples over. For one walking, the weight keeps a person from toppling while on one foot until they slow down. An obese person walking very slow, then has a center of gravity shift issue. They learn to keep their legs spread apart as they go forward in locomotion because they’d have to do so with each step. So, the practice of setting the distance at all times is why they seem to have always ridden a horse simply because it’s a matter of economy for weight distribution


If not an injury, it’s the condition of being over weight

It’s a weight differentiation problem involving momentum, kinetics, inertia and distribution based on vertical balance.  A human being was not designed to carry twice and three times their normal body mass regularly and still walk as if they’re at a normal body mass. It’s when one carries a load on their back or carrying something heavy with their arms in front of them… try it and see… that one must shift their weight from side to side as they balance on one leg at a time so as not to teeter tauter the other way. When you lift your leg, you lean slightly the opposite side. Depending on the gate, or speed, at which overweight people take steps determines how extreme the side to side position is. The slower one walks, the more exagerated the sideways direction for the reason, the linear momentum forward involving inertia is lowered. The faster one walks or even jogs even over weight, the less side to side angle because of the forward inertia in which the mass is carrying the load… slight as it is.  Watching my aunt navigate around was really something strange.  A person whose logical choice to correct their side to side distanced feet apart walking strategy would do everything else to correct it, but to lose weight.


Over weight and obese youngsters

I had an Aunt who was extremely overweight.  Obese, but not morbidly.  In contrast to when she was a cheerleader in youth and active in dance as a young adult, she by far had walking anomalies at that time.  Once she gained weight, she began a process in which her walking style changed entirely over time.  At first she was energetic and as she entered middle age and then old age, she fit the description you field more and more until extreme. Her legs, incidentally, were of just short of average.

Adolescents are also challenged with control of movement of the center of mass during the support phase of walking.  Obese infants may not learn to cross crawl correctly which would in turn cause the condition of uncoordination.  In that case, they never are trained to walk normally as they learn to walk as a toddler would.

Some people, of course, learn to walk like a Crip because it’s part of their social status and to be accepted in the gang, one is inclined to appear injured/crippled, hence the term “Crip”.   I don’t think your renter was brought up in a gang like that.

The sciences that study this area don’t even know


Why don’t large animals waddle side to side?

An elephant has two extra legs for stability is why.   A horse, cow, hippo, anything with four legs uses one on one side while the other has one set on the ground as they move forward.  As the alternate, they keep stable.  An animal missing a leg noticeable will tip to a side while walking and less if hopping.

Terrestrial bipedal animals including Humans if over weight are not in balance regarding locomotion and mass distribution vs speed/gait.  Certain birds, however, are designed for flight in which their need to walk straight line patterns are not as important for their principle mode of self transportation.  A penguin for example is flightless, however, their mode happens to be swimming in which like a ballet dancer, are graceful to experience.  This is the same principle for the seal, sea lion, and most mammalian water dwellers that waddle for the reason, they are not designed to travel over land.    On land, their proportions are like that of an obese person because they form blubber in preparation for the extreme cold weather.




    • realnuz said:

      You’re welcome. I hope it shed light on the topic. I actually learned the answer while sorting through the problem the question brought forth.

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