For the last 60 or 70 years, you never gave walking a second thought; you just got on with it.
Now you find yourself having to concentrate when you are walking. You are paying attention and trying hard to stay steady. Instead of enjoying your surroundings, you find yourself looking down and worrying.
Walking safely and confidently is crucial to staying active and engaged with life. Not only does it help us get where we need to go, but it also gives us the confidence to get out in the world and make the most of every day.
Concentrating on walking is a good start, but you could be doing more. Having something positive to focus on will help you to stay stable and make you feel more confident and in control.
These are the three things that we recommend our members to pay attention to when walking:
Tip #1: Pull Up Tall for Good Posture
It’s a natural response to stoop when you feel unsteady. It feels protective and enables you to watch the ground more carefully.
However, stooping actually throws your balance off further. When you bend forward, your centre of gravity moves, and you become less stable. A smaller trip or stumble will be more likely to knock you off your balance.
The more unsteady you feel, the more likely you are to maintain this stooped posture.
What Is Good Posture?
I like to make posture simple. Imagine there is a string pulling you up through the top of your head. Lengthen up as much as you can.
Standing up tall gives your organs more space and allows you to take deeper breaths. With more oxygen, you have more energy and feel better.
Don’t worry if you feel like your posture isn’t perfect, just pull up as tall as you can. Keep looking straight ahead as you walk to maintain this posture.
If you are walking on very uneven ground, do still pay attention to the paving stones or tree roots. Just do your best to stay as upright as possible at the same time.
Tip #2: Rolling Heel-Toe Action
Walking well requires a rolling movement in the foot. We tend to lose this natural movement as we get older.
The result is that our walking is less powerful, and we are at more risk of trips and stumbles.
We need to re-learn the rolling heel-to-toe action to walk more safely and confidently. When you put your foot down, your heel should make contact with the ground first. Your weight then rolls through to the ball of the foot, until you are ready to push off from the toes.
Demonstration of the Rolling Heel-To-Toe Movement
There are two reasons why this rolling action helps us to walk well.
Firstly, you are less likely to trip as your toes are off the ground when you first put your foot down. A small bump in the pavement or the edge of a rug will be less likely to cause you to stumble and fall.
It also gives you more power, so you can take bigger strides and walk more confidently.
Stiff Feet and Ankles?
If you find this movement difficult, you may benefit from exercises designed to increase the flexibility of your ankles and help them to move better.
Our free Strong Foundations video series includes an Ankle Strength & Mobility routine which will help you to improve your balance and walk more confidently. Click here to get access to these five, free home exercise videos from Vida Wellness.
Tip #3: Swing Those Arms
We also lose the habit of swinging our arms, which affects how well we walk. Arm swinging is more important than we realise.
When your leg swings through the air, it is counterbalanced by the arm swinging on the opposite side of the body. Your central core is then more able to balance you and keep you steady.
Arm swinging during walking requires little effort and makes your walking more efficient. Studies have shown that when we swing our arms we use less energy to move our legs.
So, bend your elbows, keep your arms close to your body, and allow those arms to swing naturally.
Keep these walking technique tips in mind:
- Imagine a string pulling you up tall
- Roll your foot from heel to toe
- Swing your arms
Having something positive to focus on when walking means you will feel more confident and in control. Walking well means you are less likely to trip or fall. You will be able to relax and enjoy your surroundings and companions.
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