Walking Form and Posture: How to Get It Right
Most of us don’t pay much attention to how we walk. So, we don’t realize how unsound walking posture can be deleterious to the muscles, joints, and ligaments. The correct walking posture has many benefits. But first, let us understand what posture is.
What is body posture?
Body posture refers to the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Good posture is extremely vital as it ensures that the bones are in proper positions, and muscles and ligaments are not strained. In simple terms, it’s about how we hold our bodies while performing any form of physical activity such as standing, sitting, walking, running, or even sleeping.
Good posture ensures the following:
- Alignment of bones and joints
- Reduced stress on muscles and ligaments
- Slows the wear and tear of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments
- Prevents injuries, muscle and joint pains, and fatigue
- Improves balance and stability
How to achieve the correct walking form?
Walking is a moderately intense physical activity. So, when the foot strikes the ground while walking, it experiences a force of 1.5 times our body weight. Walking in the correct form is thus very important. All you need to do is be a little mindful of the technique and each part of your body.
Head: Your head should be held high, chin should be parallel to the ground, and the ears must be aligned with the shoulders. Keep your gaze forward and focus at least 10 to 20 feet ahead.
Back: Your back must be elongated while you walk. Do not slouch, haunch, or lean forward; this exerts a lot of stress on the back.
Shoulders: Your shoulders play an important role in the walking form, and should be down and back. Tensed shoulders exert strain on their muscles and joints, neck, and upper back. For correct posture, simply shrug your shoulders and let them relax. This allows the shoulder muscles to release tension and allows them to be in their natural position.
Core: Your core muscles must be tightened by sucking in your stomach towards the spine. This aids in the maintenance of balance and stability, and reduces stress on the back as you take each step.
Arms: Your arms must swing from the shoulders (not elbows) back and forth as you walk. Bend your elbows at 90° and slightly close your hands. With each step, the opposite arm moves forward and the foot comes forward. Make sure you do not swing them across your body or too high. Do not clench your hands and keep your elbows close to your body.
Hips: Your hips must be tucked in and rotated slightly as you move forward. So, do not stick your butt out while walking. This will help prevent arching your back.
Foot: Your step must be from heel to toe. This means, as your foot lands on the ground, your heel should strike first, followed by rolling your forefoot. This helps to maintain gait. Do not strike your toes first. Avoid walking with long strides because it may strain the lower leg joints.
Importance of walking with the correct form
Walking with the correct form and posture will reduce the strain on the joints, muscles, and ligaments; it can help in improving your balance, which in turn can help in preventing pain and injuries. Adopting the right walking form can help in eventually progressing to walking for longer periods, which can greatly benefit your overall health and fitness. Keeping the core muscles engaged during walking can help in strengthening them over time.
Walking with the correct technique and form is not difficult. It is easily achievable with practice. Walk right to get fitter.
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