How to walk with the correct posture Part 2
This is an awareness and fine tuning exercise
“Wow, you walk badly.”
I met those words from a walk leader with a sense of dismay, embarrassment and just a little bit of hostile defiance. “I’m fine” as I sped off from the group.
Then it happened again a few weeks later.
With a different walk leader. “Don’t you hurt after a long walk? The way you land your foot, it’s like you’re on a parade ground.”
And again I sped off with an “I’m fine.”
And then a few weeks later, from another walk leader. By this point, I was getting paranoid. But I always had my suspicions about the way I walked. I just never thought about it.
“Stop right there. Let me see the soles of your boots. Gosh, look at them. Perfectly fine and still very deep and define grooves except for the heel and inner heel. Worn to the bone!”
And that was the sneaky suspicion. I was binning a £150 pair of Saloman 4d GTX boots every three months (ok, I was doing about 50–70 miles a week at that stage but still …)
“What you need to do is relearn how to walk. Land on your heel gentle, roll through and push off with the front of your foot. Just imagine with every stride you are showing off your heel to the person behind you. Don’t just plop your foot down over and over.”
Plop my foot down? PLOP my foot down?! The cheek!
And then it happened — the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis.
And I had to relearn how to walk.
And frankly, it was a joy and helped me slowly heal as my footfalls now included a gentle roll through and stretch before liftoff and landing gently on my heel again.
Here’s a simple explainer video that goes through the foot motion and how it can improve your walk and stance.
We also love this video. It’s for Power Walking, but it has some good images for Liftoffs and Landings.
For a perfect look at the Phases of Walking Gait or the fours stages of a stride, we also recommend this short video which clearly shows:
- Heel Contact
- Forefoot Loading
- Heel Off
- Toe Off
Isn’t it just fascinating?!
As with part one of our walking with a good posture, here is the second part of that great resource we found.
And this is a good explainer of your walking posture for the lower body and foot.
The walking step is a rolling motion. Flexible shoes will ensure you are able to roll through the step. If your feet are slapping down rather than rolling through the step, your shoes may be too stiff.
Proper Walking Step Motion
– Strike the ground first with your heel.
– Roll through the step from heel to toe.
– Push off with your toes.
– Bring the back leg forward to strike again with the heel.
At first, your shin muscles may tire and be sore until they are strengthened. This is natural when you first start walking for fitness or when you change your foot motion, stride or shoes.
The push off by your rear foot is the key to walking with power and speed. Unfortunately, many people fall into the bad habit of overstriding — taking a longer step in front. This puts more stress on your lower leg joints, and it doesn’t give your stride power.
Ask a friend to watch you walk to see if you are overstriding with your usual walking pattern.
Practice Your Stride
As you walk with the good posture and roll-through from heel to toe, concentrate on keeping the back foot on the ground longer and giving yourself a good push off. Think about keeping your stride shorter in front.
As you get comfortable with this new walking pattern, you can increase speed by taking more, smaller steps. This is what fast walkers do rather than overstriding.
Lengthen Your Stride in Back
Focus on shortening your front step first. Next, if you like, you can also lengthen your stride in back to improve power and efficiency in your stride. Your forward foot should strike closer to your body. You don’t gain anything by stepping out farther with your forward foot.
Think about keeping your back foot on the ground longer and giving yourself a good push off to add power to your stride. Your feet are rolling through the step from heel strike in front to pushing off with your toes in back.
So have a try of the techniques above.
Find some space and take a few steps. maybe get a friend to see if you have the four stages of a walking gait with a good, robust Heel Contact, Forefoot Loading, Heel Off and Toe Off.