Proper Walking Technique - Engage those Muscles!

posted Jan 20, 2019, 3:20 PM by Walk Strong Calgary
Since we're tracking our fitness walking (running counts, too!) miles this year, let's take a look at proper walking technique. Walking is very natural, however, if not done with good form, you may hinder nutrient delivery to the discs in the spine let alone potentially throwing things out of alignment, resulting in ongoing pain. Done well, a good brisk walk will engage muscles efficiently, resulting in better outcomes for your health!

1. Walk with a 'Spring in Your Step'
You've likely heard of walking 'with a spring in your step' - this should happen naturally during your gait cycle as you push off with your toes, resulting in your head and shoulders moving up and down as you walk. But have you ever noticed that some people 'glide' (i.e, they don't bop up and down at all) when they walk? This is the result of a shorter stride that doesn't engage the toes. Did you know that the toes play a critical role in walking? Beyond balance, they also turn muscles on and off.

2. Walk with a Long Stride Length
Stride length is very important - a longer stride engages your leg muscles (quads in particular) and your glutes, while a short stride length does not. Try placing your hands on your sweet hind end and walk across the room, taking very small steps - you won't feel much happening in your gluteal muscles (if anything at all). Now do it again taking long strides, pushing off with your toes - feel the difference? Whoa! If you're walking for fitness, you definitely want those muscles engaged - they're your powerful walking muscles and a longer stride will strengthen them. You'll burn more calories during your walk, too, due to more muscle engagement.

3. Pay Attention to Leg and Feet Position
Got tight IT bands (outer thigh)? You might be walking with your legs too far apart, resulting in a muscle imbalance - tight muscles on the outer thigh, weaker muscles on the inner thigh. Walk with your legs relatively close together, and point your toes forward (many people walk with toes pointed out, a possible indicator of tight external hip rotators). Focus on keeping your toes forward and you'll be a better runner!

These are just three tips to a stronger, healthier and more efficient outdoor walk. Of course, you also want to keep your eyes forward, chin parallel to the ground as you walk, which helps keep your head in line with your spine. If you have a tendency to walk with your chin tucked toward your chest, eyes on the ground, your body will gradually adapt to that position, and you may begin to notice that it's getting harder to lift your head up to look at the top shelf of your cupboards or in the grocery store. Put your mind to your walk and make it a 'body awareness' exercise! Walk Strong out there!

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness, located in Calgary, Alberta Canada. As a Master Walk 15® Instructor (Leslie Sansone Walk at Home) and certified Group Fitness Instructor (American Council on Excercise), Nancy is leading people of all ages and all walks of life to better health through fitness programs that literally anyone can do. Her signature certification is the Walk 15® program, which uses walking as its core move, and features low-impact aerobics paced to music that measures miles through the beat. Her enthusiasm is contagious, her energy abundant! Visit Class Times, Location & Cost for a class near you! Follow Nancy on Facebook: