There are a lot of things to think about during this corona-virus pandemic. There are things in your life that you have to put on hold so you are not putting yourself or others at risk. With all the emergency warning in many countries to stop non-essential travels or any outdoor activities, gyms and workout classes are closed, there are not many things to do for you. And yet, you need to do your walking exercise.
Many of us are doing their physical activities via live streams but that it is not possible if you are crazy about walking outdoor and hiking. You walk everywhere, right? It is how you get your body from point A to point B. However, did you know that when you are walking for health and fitness there is a technique to help you walk correctly? Yes. Proper walking can help you maximise the benefits of walking for fitness.
Sometimes you are not prepared for the sheer of the terrain you are going, even if it is in a city, on a hill or any other routes you may take. At the end of your walks/hikes, your lower back and ankles will hurt you so much, that you swore that you will never go out again. Sounds familiar?
Here are some expert tips to help you walk with the best form possible, and you can improve them indoor. Take advantage of the world wide ‘shut down’ and improve your walking exercise via the following tips.
Tip #1 – Stand Up Straight.
Good posture helps you embrace all of the other walking technique tips we’re going to discuss. Good posture is the foundation of proper walking technique.
What is good posture?
Keep your spine straight. Not ramrod straight but a relaxed straight. Square your shoulders. Hold your head up high so you are looking ahead of you. Don’t arch your back but instead focus on the top of your head. Think about it stretching towards the sky. When your head is held high, you tend to pull your shoulders into alignment and straighten your spine.
What is it that bad posture will do to your body? It can contribute to aches and pain after walking, especially lower back and your feet.
How can you improve your posture at home? So, while we are all staying home during this time, it is the perfect time to try to fix some issues with our walking techniques. Find a place where you can make your exercises, where you have some space to walk, such as a big room or garden and follow the following tips to improve your walking techniques.
1. Stand Up Straight. Some people ( like myself included) find this very painful. If you have back problems, like I do, staying up straight is a struggle. After about 10 min I have to arch my back so the pain will go away. Which I know it is not the right move to do because doing this, although it gives me a short time pain release my back pain will increase over time. Remember, you can also practise walking on the spot, which is a great form of exercise if you do not have a garden. And, it can also be done, while watching your favourite program as long as you incorporate the following tips for a good posture.
2. Don’t Lean Back And Forward. These will increase your back muscle pain as you walk, especially when you are out for a long walk. So, avoid it as much as you can, except when you are up the hill.
3. Don’t Arch Your Back. This will increase your back pain.
4. Try To Suck In Your Stomach. In this way your muscle core will be at work and also this technique will maintain a proper posture.
5. Your Eyes 20 Feet Ahead Of You. You will force your head to follow your eyes, therefore holding it high and straight.
6. Relax Your Shoulders. This will help you to let go of the tension that you are carrying on your shoulders.
Tip #2 – Loosen Your Arms And Hands.
Many people walk with their fists clenched. Your arms will be bent at the elbow, but they’ll also be relaxed. If you hunch your shoulders up, you’ll carry tension with you when you walk. Relax your shoulders, arms and hands and move your arms naturally as you walk. They will move from the front to back in a parallel line, not a chicken wing movement. Also, your arms will rotate opposite your feet. So if your right arm is out front your left leg will be too.
1. Partially you can close your hand, but do not clench them. Clenching your hands can raise your blood -pressure and we do not want that.
2. Do not flap your elbow out. Keep them close to your body.
Tip #3 – Embrace Your Core.
If you think that walking does not cause you any injuries, you are wrong. You need to prepare for your walking event/challenge. Your core muscles are the muscles in your back and stomach. As you walk engage these muscles. Use them to maintain good posture and for momentum. When you engage your core muscles you’re also working to strengthen them. Strong core muscles help reduce injury and they also help you lose weight.
Sometimes, we do not have to rely too much on our legs to walk because we tend to put too much pressure on our lower legs and this is why so many people are diagnosed with shin splints, plantar fasciitis, sore toes and so on.
We need to learn how to avoid all these foot problems redirecting all the pressure to our core muscle around our lower trunk area and around the pelvis. The good news is that we don’t need to spent hours in the gym building a strong core. We can do that while we are walking. But, because now with all the restrictions on place, we have to find a way to do the core muscles at home.
Tip #4 – Breath.
Many people forget to breathe naturally when they’re walking. Many of us probably do not think much about breathing while we are walking. But, if you do not use breath techniques while walking, this could cause your entire body to tense up. It can actually make walking quite uncomfortable. As you’re walking inhale and exhale to a count. Depending on how quickly you’re walking the count may be to three or four.
Learning to control your breathing will help to improve cardiovascular health and endurance for longer walks. Also, can improve your mood, metabolism, body energy, but if you do not breath properly, you can feel exhausted and fatigue. While you are at home due to coronavirus, you should take your time to learn the proper breathing technique.
Tip #5 – Heel To Toe.
Walk naturally, with a heel to toe foot strike. Try to keep your foot balanced with an even strike. Some people tend to walk on the outside of their foot and over-pronating. Others tend to walk on the inside of their foot and under-pronating. It depends on the shoes you’re wearing and the structure of your foot. Keep the length of your stride natural. Strides that are too long can cause you to fatigue quickly.
Try to not push yourself too hard. Think about it, if you have not been walking or doing any kind of exercises for a long time, or you are coming back from an injury and then you start walking for 3 days in a row long walks, that is a dramatic increase for stress fractures. Don’t do it. Do it gradually, with a plan and some training before.
Here are some exercises to do while you are at home during these unfortunate times.
1. As we age, the Achille’s tendon is getting a bit to tighten. Try to stretch your Achilles’ tendons. Sit on the floor with the legs straighten in front of you then wrap a towel or a Thera-band around the ball of your foot and holding the ends in your hands. Pull it toward you and hold it for 3 sec. Do these 5 times on each leg.
2. Facing a wall with your legs straight slightly apart and then bend the knee and bring it toward the wall. You must keep your feet flat and straight. Try to keep your back leg straight and foot flat while moving your hip forward until you feel the stretch. Do this for 30-sec repeating 5 times and then switch the leg.
3. Use a chair or anything that will help you to keep your balance, hold on to it and simply lift your heels up, repeating at least 10 times. This exercise is great for a pre-and-post walk.
There has not been a better time to improve yourself and therefore improve your walking techniques. Therefore, take advantage of the world wide unprecedented situation and do the best of it. Turn a negative and sad situation into a positive outcome. Learn and improve yourself, so when it is all over and back to the normal speed you will be well prepared and up to speed.
Start small. If you’re not an active person and are just beginning a walking program then start small. Take shorter walking trips or walk slowly. Walking is something that is quite natural for your body to do. As you begin to become accustomed to your new walking program, your body will adapt and strengthen quickly.
Remember to breathe and practise walking with proper breathing techniques. Even if you are housebound due to government recommendation you can still exercise in your own house or garden. Be inventive and do the best you can in the given circumstances.
Remember, this will pass, too. So if life gives you lemons make lots of lemonade!!!!!
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Until next time
Oana & Paula