Walking comes naturally to most of us. We learned to do it as young children. By the time we were old enough to be cognizant of what were actually doing, we didn’t even have to think about it. Yet the very thought of walking as a natural, human function leads to an interesting question: is there a right way to do it? According to the experts, there is.
An interesting article published by Shape discusses the correct way to walk from an exercise perspective. Though the article is a few years old and doesn’t deal a whole lot with walking outside of the exercise realm, its principles still apply. The piece is filled with tips from a chiropractor who insists that walking correctly and with proper posture is good for you.
It Starts with Posture
Strangely enough, what is considered proper walking does not start with the feet or legs. It starts with your posture. Apparently, you should walk with your chest held high. This puts your sternum in the correct position and naturally aligns the shoulders and neck. And when that’s done, the whole body is more balanced and prepared to walk correctly.
To help facilitate good posture, the Shape article recommends keeping your head up and focusing your gaze at about twenty feet in front of you. Obviously, the one exception here is having to look down because you are walking on uneven or slippery pavement.
A Strike-and-Roll Stride
A correct walking style involves a strike-and-roll stride. In other words, the heel of your foot strikes the ground as you move forward. You then roll through your foot and off its ball as you pick up your other foot and place it in front of you. If you are doing it correctly, your feet are constantly rolling through each stride from heel to ball.
Certain types of shoes can inhibit the strike-and-roll stride. High heels and flip-flops immediately come to mind. As a side note, a recent blog post published by GC Tech, a Utah company that makes men’s overshoes, mentioned dragging your feet behind your rather than picking them up. One of the downsides of doing so is prematurely ruining your shoes.
Keep Your Arms Free
As you practice the strike-and-roll stride, you will need your arms to help you keep balance. Therefore, make sure they are free to swing as you walk. Heavy shoulder bags that prohibit arm movement will make it more difficult for you to walk with the right posture and swing your arms. Likewise, walking with your hands in your pockets naturally tends toward a shorter stride and dragging the feet.
Lengthen Your Stride
Finally, if you find that you are having difficulty with both a strike-and-roll stride and freely swinging your arms, it could be that your stride is too short. Try lengthening it a bit. You don’t want it so long that every step requires monumental effort, but you also don’t want it so short that dragging your feet comes easy. Shoot for something in the middle.
Learning to walk correctly can do a lot for you physically. It can improve your balance, build strength in your lower body, and improve your posture. It can also benefit you financially by helping your shoes last longer.
Even something as natural as walking can be done correctly or incorrectly. Unfortunately, if you have spent a lifetime walking incorrectly, it could take some real effort to fix things. But making the effort is worthwhile, especially as one ages. Walking with the correct posture and stride is just better all the way around.