Learn To Walk Better
You probably already know that walking is one of the best exercises you can do for so, so many reasons.
But did you know that you can get even more benefits from walking if you pay attention to your technique?
Today I’m sharing some key tips to make your walking better for your body.
Two Types Of Walking
We can basically walk in two ways.
We can lean forward, and then gravity pulls us forward and we catch ourselves with our legs. It’s a type of controlled falling. When we walk this way, we save energy. But we also burn fewer calories, use less muscle and create a lot of wear and tear on our joints.
Alternatively, we can stand on one leg, and then push that leg behind us like a canoe paddle. Just like a canoe, this pushes our body forward. We stay vertical and our movement remains under control. This is called posterior push off.
Most of us walk with a combination of these strategies; typically about 90% falling and 10% push-off.
And that’s a shame, because we can really improve the health benefits of walking when we use more posterior push-off.
Why Posterior Push Off Is Hard
The challenge? Posterior push off has physical pre-requisites.
You can’t do it unless you have the ability to get your leg behind your pelvis and the strength to lift yourself up on a single hip.
And most of us have lost these abilities because of the usual culprits: chairs, shoes with heels, and our sedentary culture.
The good news? I’m here to help! Check out this video where I explain walking technique in more detail and to give you some exercises to help you with getting that leg back behind you.
More Stuff To Help You Walk Better
Hopefully that gave you some insights – those two hip extension exercises are a great idea to do before you go on a walk to help improve your walking capacity.
Walking is complex and there are a lot of things that go into it, but here are some other resources that will help you with the key components.
You Need A Supple Psoas
The psoas release is a very gentle exercise but it is so important for helping with hip extension (and it’s also great for your spine and core strength). Tight psoas muscles need to be relaxed before they can be effectively stretched, and this exercise will teach you how. You’ll need a yoga bolster or a couch cushion and something like a towel to use as a pillow. Enjoy!
You Need Strong, Stable Lateral Hips
Learning to strengthen your lateral hips is absolutely vital for better walking. These muscles on the side of your butt are what allow you to stand on a single leg, so you can push that leg behind you. Here’s an exercise tutorial to help you identify and strengthen those side butt muscles.
You Need Ankle Mobility
Limited range of motion in your ankles and calves will also force you to fall forward when walking. This calf stretch is a great option for regaining length and range in the backs of your legs (and you can do it while you enjoy your morning coffee).
You Need Toe Mobility
It sounds a bit crazy, but your big toe is a key part of walking too. It’s the final piece of a better walking stride – it has to have lots of range of motion so it can fold into extension and the push you forward. When your toe is able to do its thing, so are your glutes, so it’s a win for your entire body. You can grab my free Free Your Feet program right here to start working on your toes.
This should give you lots to work on! If you have any questions, make sure to check in with me in my Move Better, Live Better group on Facebook and I’ll be happy to help you out.
Build a strong foundation for better movement by starting with your feet!
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Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body – and she’s always happy to chat about it. When she’s not teaching, you’ll probably find her hanging out on a set of monkey bars.