Walking comes automatically to the able-bodied. However, many of us are unaware of whether we have good posture and a proper walking technique.
Good posture and the right walking technique are beneficial, as they help:
- improve balance and stability, which reduces the risk of injury
- reduce muscle aches and fatigue
- maintain proper bone and joint alignment
- reduce wear and tear of your joints, muscles and ligaments
- prevent or reduce neck, back, hip or leg pain
Being mindful of how you move is all it takes, as walking with good posture and the right technique is not difficult. Good posture while walking also exudes confidence.
Simple guidelines for walking properly
Walking is not just an activity that involves your legs, as many presume. Let’s see which body parts are involved in walking.
- Your head and neck
Focus on standing tall with the neck straight, chin tucked in and ears aligned above your shoulders, i.e., don’t slouch forward. Imagining your head being pulled up by an invisible string may help.
- Your spine (back)
Moving down, the focus should be on keeping your spine straight in an elongated position while you walk. Again, try not to slouch or hunch, as this can put pressure on your back muscles and spinal cord.
- Your shoulders
Your shoulders should be correctly aligned while walking. Here’s a simple tip on how to check if they are in the correct position:
Raise or shrug your shoulders as high as you can, and then let them fall back in a relaxed position. A shoulder shrug relieves shoulder tightness, and re-positions your shoulders back into a natural position. This allows your arms to move freely.
Remember to relax your shoulders while walking. When some people start picking up the pace, they automatically allow their shoulders to get into a raised, tensed-up position.
Do shoulder shrugs every now and then to ensure your shoulders are relaxed and correctly positioned. You can even do this movement if you spend long hours at your desk.
- Your core
Your core muscles play an important role when you move or walk. Focus on engaging (or tightening) your core muscles as you walk. Do this by pulling in your belly button towards your spine. A tight core helps relieve pressure on your back and also maintains your balance and stability.
Remember to breathe normally while engaging your core!
- Your arms
While walking, loosely swing your arms forward and backward below 45° at the sides of your body. Swing the arms from the shoulders, not the elbows. Don’t swing your arms across your body or your chest or swing up too high, as you may accidentally swipe a fellow walker with your enthusiastic swinging.
- Your feet
A study done in the Journal of Experimental Biology found walking heel-to-toe is much more efficient than walking toe-to-heel, as the latter takes up nearly twice as much energy compared to the former. So, if you are a toe-to-heel walker, a change in walking style will prevent unnecessary energy loss. Be mindful and maintain a steady gait.
A few tips on what to avoid doing while on your walk
- Avoid looking down – frequently looking down at your feet or mobile phone can cause unnecessary neck strain
- Take short strides – medical research has shown over-striding (taking big steps) stresses the lower leg joints.
- Maintain good posture – to avoid back and shoulder strain, avoid slouching. Remember to keep the spine elongated and engage the core.
- Use proper walking shoes – wear shoes with good heel and arch support. Shoes should also be well cushioned to absorb the shock when your feet hit the ground.
Readers, especially those with current medical issues, are always advised to consult their doctor before engaging in any form of exercise, as the information contained in this article is not to be taken as medical advice.
26th August 19:50 2020