Walk Right Into Fall
You learned to walk as a toddler and you think you have it mastered since you walk everyday, BUT did you know that most people don’t walk with proper alignment? Due to the change of work culture over time, many people sit most of their day. From all of the sitting, our hips flexors are tight so we walk with our hips flexed, our back arched, and our bum behind us.
And since the age of cell phones, we’re always looking down at our most recent text or Tweet which causes the body to hunch forward. The end result is that you are increasing your aging. In fact, bending over to browse your Facebook feed causes your head to exert about six times its normal force on your neck, which can lead to early wear and tear, reports the journal Neuro and Spine Surgery.
So how do you walk properly?
1. Walking with proper posture starts with your sternum. When you lift your sternum up, it automatically puts your shoulders and neck into correct alignment so you don’t even have to think about them. Unless you’re walking on ice and have to look down, gaze 20 feet ahead of you and see where you’re going.
2. The bag that you carry matters. Bags that are too heavy, too short, or too long interfere with your ability to swing your arms naturally. Normally, your arms and legs move in opposition so that your right arm swings forward when your left leg steps out. When a bag is in the way, however, your arms don’t flow as freely and this can affect your alignment from head to toe. This throws off your balance, keeps you from using your muscles and joints appropriately, and can create tightness, stress, and injury. Either lighten your load or consider wearing your bag messenger style, which disperses the weight more evenly and allows your arms to move unimpeded.
3. When it comes to your footwear, sporting the wrong shoes can impact your gait. Ideally, you want to strike with your heel and roll through your foot as you walk.. While heels are an obvious strut-killer since they’re difficult to walk in, flip-flops, mules, ballet flats, and clogs can be just as bad. Shoes that force you to grab with your toes in order to keep them on your feet interfere with your heel-toe stride. They also make your gait shorter so you’re not getting the full range of motion in your hips, ankles, and feet when you walk. Over time, walking in the wrong shoes can contribute to painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and bunions, which will surely keep you off of your feet. Sneakers are ideal, but not always stylish. Before you buy shoes, try them on and shake your foot around and if the shoe stays on your foot without gripping with your toes. If it stays on, then you’re probably good to go.
4. Allow the leg that’s behind you to linger there for a nanosecond longer before stepping it forward. Tight hip flexors means we tend to shorten our gait more than we need it to, so lengthening your stride gives you a nice stretch along the fronts of your hips and your quadriceps. Proper walking can be like yoga in action, lengthening and strengthening.