We take our walking skills for granted ever since we learnt walking as babies – thereafter, we don’t give it a second thought. Often times we notice people with atypical walking steps and strides and we may ourselves be walking incorrectly but are not consciously aware of it. Walking improperly is one of the major contributors towards joint pains, hip problems and body aches including headaches. In this article, we will cover three basic points of walking properly
The most important biomechanics of walking involves the first step contacting the ground with a heel strike while the second foot should have the toe on the ground. The heel strike is followed by that opposite toe pushing off from the ground and the cycle continues with the other foot. The alternating heel-strike followed by toe-off is the only correct form of stepping. We may notice that young children have a spring-like motion in their step whereas some older individuals will shuffle their toes forward without landing with the heels first. Shuffling and other improper forms of walking create imbalanced pressure points. We can practice proper walking at first with slight exaggerated movements until it feels more natural. The head will bounce up and down slightly and there will be a swing in the step when we walk properly!
The second point is to pay attention to the stride length. The stride length should not be too short and it should not be too long either. Sometimes people will walk with lazy short steps and this type of walking does not contract the gluteus muscles at all. We can try to find the stride length that gives a slight contraction in our gluteus muscles but at the same time is quite comfortable. Thus when we are walking, the hip and the gluteous muscles will also be working.
The third important point to pay attention to is the shoulder movement during walking. The opposite shoulder to the heel strike should rotate slightly towards that leg. As the cycle continues there is a crossover rotation of the shoulder joint towards the opposite leg.
To summarize, the first contact with ground should be with the heel strike, followed by the toe push-off using a comfortable stride length. There is also a slight rotation of the opposite shoulder towards the leg with the heel strike.
At first we can practice these walking points by exaggerating the movements until it feels natural. Following these steps in walking will ensure that the pressure points in the body are appropriately balanced and this will help to relieve unnecessary hip pains, joint pains and aches. Thus, with just walking we can get rid of a lot of unnecessary pains!