May marked Britain’s ‘National Walking Month’, but we here at HCC believe in the importance of walking no matter what month it is! With this in mind, Mark has shared some helpful tips with us to help us maximise our walking potential!
Tip #1 – Say no to pumps!
Avoid pumps, flip-flops and flimsy sandals for long walks. If you have a flat foot, shoes which support the arch of your foot are generally useful. If you have an excessively high arch foot profile, shoes with a moderate heel are usually beneficial.
Tip #2 – Squeeze those butt muscles!
Possibly the most underused and weak muscle in relation to its size is the buttock or gluteal muscles. It should play a prominent role in protecting the back and propelling you forward walking. So, the next time you are pushing off your toes to propel yourself forward – squeeze the gluteal muscles! You can practice this by pushing against the wall with one leg forward, off your foot and toes, knee bent and the other leg straight. On the leg furthest away from the wall, push forward toward the wall and squeeze your buttock.
Tip #3 – Punch your way to a better walk
Often, people do not use their trunk and upper body to add to the forward momentum of walking. As with most sporting activities, e.g. golf, tennis, boxing; the power comes from the pelvis and trunk. To simulate this, pretend you are punching something ahead of you. This spot should be on the same side as your punching hand. Really put some effort into this as though you want to punch the spot with all your might. You should find you automatically use your trunk and pelvis. Try to integrate this into your walking motion.
Tip #4 – Stand up!
When walking, an upright posture is essential. It is very common to see people standing or walking with a stooped posture. Instead, think of a thread coming from the top of your head and pulling your whole spine upwards. This should correct your posture, which will in turn help you activate your trunk muscles, which will take the pressure off your thighs and legs.
Tip # 5 – Suck it in!
As with most exercises, your ability to provide oxygen to your tiring muscles is essential for optimal performance. It is very common for people to breathe only using their upper chest/lungs. Given the pyramidal shape (with the bottom of the rib cage), this means you are only using a very small portion of your lungs. Instead, try to breathe by expanding the bottom rib cage so that your sides are pushed out. This will take some practice but, once mastered, will help with performance; especially in terms of endurance and recovery.
Tip #6 – Get some swagger
To put the whole technique of walking together (tips #1-5), you might imagine yourself walking along with some attitude. Loosen your body up and move as though you are on a cat walk. Alternatively, visualise a 100m sprinter with all the upper body action and the knees and hip motion (pumping the knees and arms to get as much speed as possible) and use this technique but slowed down.