Walking is part and parcel of everyday life which is why most people tend to not give much thought to how we walk and whether we are walking correctly. More often than not, people are surprised to find out that there is more to walking than just moving forward from foot to foot.
Taking daily walks has benefits such as improving heart health, but walking correctly maximises the advantages and helps you to avoid injuries that can affect your quality of life.
Keep reading to find out why we should pay more attention to the way we walk, the importance of a correct walking posture and tips for how to walk properly.
Why walking correctly is beneficial
Walking just 30 minutes every day is good enough to boost cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones, reduce excess body fat and help you to lose weight, and boost muscle power and endurance. It does not require any special equipment, making it one of the simplest activities to take part in to improve your health.
At the same time, it is equally important to pay attention to how you are walking because maintaining good form will allow you to reap double the benefits.
Here are reasons why walking correctly is beneficial for you.
Look and feel more confident
There is a reason why models go through intensive walking training – they need to look and feel confident while on the runway to wow the audience. Albeit we are no models, walking with the right posture can help you to feel more confident in your own skin, which has benefits such as reducing feelings of anxiety.
Alleviate aches and pains
Notice how you feel neck or back pain after sitting down for prolonged periods of time? The same goes for walking – moving with a bad posture such as slouching and hunching your back can contribute to bodily pains and aches. On the other hand, when you practise correct walking, less stress and impact are placed on your muscles, tendons, soft tissues, and ligaments in the body.
Improve blood circulation
Using the right walking technique keeps your body aligned for optimum blood circulation to all body parts, helping to improve digestion and keeping your heart healthy.
Taking frequent walks helps to build lower body strength for better balance and walking with the right posture enhances it. Improving your balance is especially important as you age, as it can help to prevent falls that can result in serious injuries.
Risks of improper walking
The pattern of how you walk is called your gait and an abnormal gait can cause lower back strain, neck pain and headaches.
Some common symptoms of an abnormal gait include dragging or shuffling your feet, hyperextending your knee, walking with your head or neck bent over, and looking down as you walk.
It is high time to kick these bad habits by learning how to walk properly before your body suffers even more.
Tips for walking properly
- Stand tall
Instead of hunching which makes it harder to breathe and causes backaches, make an effort to stand tall and extend your spine, maintaining this elongation as you walk.
- Keep your head parallel to the ground
Take note of how your head is positioned; make sure you keep it parallel to the ground and centred between your shoulders. A nifty trick is simply to look straight ahead as you walk and it should help you maintain your head in this position.
- Keep your eyes up
Constantly looking down at your feet or phone while walking puts stress on your upper back and neck. Hence, keep your eyes up to prevent tension in the upper body.
- Bring your shoulders down and back
Roll your shoulders up, back and then down helps you to find a relaxed and right resting position to avoid putting tension on your upper body. This also prevents rigid walking, as your arms can swing freely.
- Engage your core
Engaging your core by drawing your belly button into your spine while walking prevents poor posture.
- Take moderate strides
Taking big steps when you walk can result in you hyperextending your knee, causing your calf muscles to lean backwards to propel you forward. This can lead to lower back strain, neck pain and headaches. Instead, take moderate strides and aim to cover more steps rather than long strides if you need to do brisk walking.
- Step from heel to toe
Always strike the ground with your heel first, then roll through your heel to the toe. Pay attention to the sounds your steps make – try to avoid putting your foot down with too much force.
Walk right to walk further
Try incorporating these tips into your daily walking routine and you should see and feel a difference in your body. If you are unsure about your gait or still feel persistent pain despite making changes to how you walk, consider consulting an orthopaedic doctor who will be able to perform an in-depth examination to find out the root cause of the problem. Remember – walk right to walk further!