Walk locally as much as possible and remember to maintain your social distancing even when in the countryside. Protect our vulnerable and our healthcare system and staff.
A great walking technique will give you better comfort, power, and speed. Whether you are a beginner or you want to improve your technique, these four steps will make a difference.
Many people take up walking without thinking about proper walking form, but your posture, foot motion, stride, and arm motion make a big difference in your walking ability and can prevent injuries and power you energetically and efficiently.
STEP 1. The Walking Posture
A good walking posture allows you to breathe deeply, engage your core muscles, and use your leg and glutes (bottom) muscles for a natural walking stride. Walking is a good opportunity to reverse the hunching you may have adopted while sitting at your computer or using your phone.
Steps for a 'Perfect' Walking Posture
- Stand up straight with your feet a comfortable space apart. Your toes should be pointing forward, or a slight outward angle is acceptable.
- Imagine a string attached to the top of your head. Feel it lift you up from your hips so you are tall and straight. Do not lean forward or backward.
- Pull in your stomach slightly to engage your core muscles. This will help you maintain proper posture while walking and support your lower back.
- Tuck in your bottom by rotating your hips forward slightly. This keeps you from arching your back.
- Try not to look down, focus your eyes a few metres ahead of you.
- Keep your chin parallel to the ground. Walking with your head down (as when checking your mobile phone) puts a strain on your neck. Leave your mobile phone at home!?
- Relax your shoulders and rotate them slightly back. This shoulder position will naturally develop with a good arm swing technique.
STEP 2. The Arm Motion
Arm motion can lend power to your walking, creating more speed and therefore burning more calories per hour.
Steps for Proper Walking Arm Motion
- Partially close your hands, but do not clench them. Clenching your fists can raise your blood pressure.
- With each step, the arm opposite your forward foot comes forward. Keep this arm swing straight and not crossing the body diagonally.
- Keep your arms close to your body; don't chicken wing/flap your elbows.
- Your forward hand should not cross the centre point of your body.
- The backward swing of each arm, focus on a slightly longer swing back and this will naturally open your chest and keep your upper body upright, the core engaged and your shoulders open! Not much to think about really!!
STEP 3. The Foot Motion
The walking step is a rolling motion. Your shoe should not be rigid but offer flexibility at the toe to ensure you are able to roll through the step. If your feet are slapping down rather than rolling through the step, your shoes could be too stiff.
Steps for Proper Walking Foot Motion
- Strike the ground first with your heel.
- Roll through the step from heel to toe.
- Before toe off, focus on keeping the rear foot on the ground momentarily longer. This forces the glutes to engage and will power your forward efficiently.
- Push forward from the last point on contact which should be your big toe.
STEP 4. Concentrate what is happening behind you!
The push off by your rear foot is the key to walking with power and speed. Many people fall into the habit of over striding by taking a longer step in front. This puts more stress on your lower leg joints, and it doesn't give your stride power.
Instead, lengthen your stride behind to improve power and efficiency in your stride. Your forward foot should strike closer to the centre of your body. Think about keeping your back foot on the ground longer and giving yourself a good push off to add power to your stride.
Practise makes perfect . It will become more natural with time and an added benefit is your glutes are getting a fantastic workout giving your booty a lift!
As you get comfortable with this new walking pattern, you can increase speed by taking more, smaller steps.