With more than 145 million adults citing it as one of their primary physical activities, walking is the most popular type of exercise. It’s also one of the most straightforward and easy for nearly everyone. We learn to walk when we’re about one year old, we continue walking every day throughout pretty much the rest of our lives, and it doesn’t require any special equipment other than a pair of shoes. Plus, it’s free and you can do it just about anywhere!
So it might surprise you to learn that some people are walking incorrectly. It’s not that they aren’t successfully getting from Point A to Point B, but their form is off. This could translate into sore muscles if you walk a lot, or you might not reap as much benefit as you could otherwise.
How is your posture? If you use correct posture while walking, you can strengthen your core muscles and therefore gain more benefit from your exercise. But an even larger concern is the fact that walking with poor posture can, over time, contribute to health issues like spinal degeneration and diffuse pain. Yikes! Who knew that such a simple activity could do major harm over time, if performed incorrectly?
Use proper alignment… But relax. Contrary to what you might believe, we’re not advising you to stand stiff as a board, like a Marine at attention. Yes, you want your head and neck in vertical alignment over your spine, not slumped forward,and you do want to “stand up straight” like Mom always advised. However, standing too stiffly, arching the back, or holding tension in the shoulders can actually be harmful in the long run. It should feel as though the muscles in your abdomen are supporting you; don’t pull yourself up and back by the shoulders, or you will create strain in the upper back. Relax your shoulders and allow your neck and head to “float” naturally in place.
Gait matters. Your gait is also important. Pay attention to how your feet hit the ground, and make sure you’re using a “heel-midfoot-toes” pattern. Avoid striking the ground with a flat foot or with your knees flexed. Your feet should complete a rolling pattern from heel to toe, then push off the toes slightly.
As always, please visit us before beginning a workout routine. We can check you for health conditions and help to create an exercise regimen that is safe for your level of health.