Most people tend to have their torso pitched forwards as they walk and instead of propelling themselves forward using their gluteals and hamstrings (big ol’ booty muscles), they end up picking their legs up in front of them to catch themselves from falling. This only works to increase the tightness in the quadriceps and psoas, which are already shortened from sitting all day. Seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?
Stacking all of your bones on top of one another helps your muscles stabilize the entire skeleton. Our muscles can only contract in one direction – so, instead of working around the new kinks and bends created by slouching, they just turn off, leaving the work for another tissue.
In addition to having completely flat shoes, you also need to keep your feet parallel as you walk. Just as you wouldn’t ski with your skis turned out, you shouldn’t walk with your feet turned out. You need a flat and parallel foundation to load your tissues evenly.
Walking is the perfect NATURAL movement that allows all your joints to move through healthy ranges of motion while only having to manage your body’s weight. Allow your arms to swing naturally by your side, don’t worry too much about which way they are moving or trying to move them further (or less).
So, how much is enough? 3 miles is the bare minimum, but don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be done in one bout. You can squeeze walking in throughout your day, just shooting for 3 miles by bedtime. Think 10,000 steps is enough? My dad’s FitBit records his 10,000 steps as 2.8 miles, and doesn’t account for the extra jiggling it gets on his wrist. 10,000 steps are not enough!
But don’t get worked up over quantity, think quality. If you are unable to walk around the block maintaining your Tadasana spine and parallel feet, work on that until you can. Once you have the small distances down pat, start to slowly increase your distance, going a little bit further each time.
I googled “how not to walk” to find a photo for this post. Most of the pictures were of people walking their dogs or getting dragged by them. This girl cracks me up because she is carrying her pup and still has a great Tadasana spine! Now, if only she could relax her elbows a bit…