Proper Alignment When Walking

Proper alignment is important to the health of your body. As we begin to move in repetitive patterns we can change our posture over time. This may create places where the body experiences pain and soreness, muscle imbalance, or other problems because it is not meant to stand, move, or stay in the altered stance. When you walk – do you alter your posture?

First, Stand tall with your knees over your ankles, hips over your knees, shoulders over your hips, and ears centered over your shoulders. In this position it should feel comfortable to pull in on the abdominals and the lower back should feel supported with the pelvis in a neutral position. I know it sounds like a lot – your homework for the next couple of days is to practice this each time you look in the mirror. My yoga participants will attest to the progress regular practice makes on good posture. Begin to walk forward noticing how the body feels and responds to new alignment. Does this feel better?

Begin your regular stride with good posture and then add big arms. With the arms extended swing them forward and back in rhythm with your steps. As the right foot comes forward swing the left arm forward, and as the left foot moves so does the right hand. See what happens. How does your heart respond? Can you move faster when the arms and legs are both involved with purpose?

Practice walking with good posture and notice if it changes your energy level, the amount of work you have to do, and any other changes. It may be uncomfortable to stand up straight. Know this is normal – you’ve been asking your body to hold or move in another pattern so the muscles are strong in that pattern. Notice when you have automatically switched back to your old movement pattern and readjust attempting to stay with neutral posture as long as possible. Remember, it took time to get to this point – it’ll take time to get back. Happy Walking! Next time – a workout to try during your walk.

How Do YOU Walk?

Today lets talk about walking. In my opinion it is the best time of the year, spring, renewals, rebirth, growth, what a great time to recommit to your health. An added bonus: being outside. This week lets talk about walking, but lets mix it up.

Today we will just get a feel for your stride and how your movement effects your intensity levels. Then we’ll look at alignment and a walking workout in the next two posts. As always, don’t forget to talk with your health care person before you begin a exercise program. Most of us know the basics, put one foot in front of the other and move. Once you have the feet down you can add arms, and we’ve all seen the arm pumpers, man can they move. There is logic behind their wildly swinging arms. The additional movement gets the whole body involved, and what happens when more of your body moves? You heart rate climbs and the workout becomes more difficult.

Many of us walk everyday, but we don’t give it much thought. Today try something different. Begin with your regular stride. Notice how your body moves. How far apart are your feet with each stride? What do your arms do?  Are they swinging? Are they moving opposite your legs? Are they bent?  Are they extended? How does your back feel? What is your breathing like? Have you opened your chest or collapsed it? Where are your shoulders in relation to your hips, and where do your ears line up over your shoulders? As you answer these questions notice if this feels good or not.Today and tomorrow notice how you walk and how changing your stride, speed, arms, etc all effect your body. Next time, we’ll talk about alignment and working with posture while you walk.

An Endurance Workout

climbing the stairs

Check out the last blog post to review what endurance is then add it to your routines. To add endurance into your regular fitness routine begin by increasing distance, time, or intensity. Each can be added into your cardio routine.

A sample cardio program may look like this:

3-5 min warm-up

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2.5 min run

1 min walk

2.5 min run

1 min walk

2 min run

1 min walk

2 min walk

1 min run

3-5 min warm-up

Continue to add 1:2 min intervals as you add time to your workout

Or

Make the run portion longer in each interval

Eventually, you‘ll increase the run time and decrease the recovery time until the entire workout is a run. Then begin to add walking intervals at the end to bring the total workout time closer to 45min.

Over time you’ll find that you can go longer and faster. Maybe you want to walk on your own from the car to the building, or you’d like to chase your children through the park, maybe you want to swim, walk, or run, maybe you just want to enjoy this beautiful thing we call life. Endurance will get you there.

As always – don’t forget to talk with your health care professional before beginning any workout program.

Endurance

Those of you getting ready to run marathons know this little term. You chase it incessantly. Those who are trying to go further find it elusive and those who’ve got it feel on top of the world. What is it? How do I get it? Where can I find it? What is it? … Endurance!

Some people are made to run long distances but endurance doesn’t just come to those with good genes. We can train for it and build upon what you already have. Endurance is a term we use to describe how far you can go. Strength tells us what we are strong enough to move and endurance allows us to perform movement over extended periods of time.

When you ask your body to perform over an extended period of time, your body must effectively create energy. There are different systems to energy, and I won’t bore you, but when we ask our bodies to go longer we have to dip into our fuel sources. That is why it is so important to eat right. Your body will use what you put in. If you are trying to lose weight it is important to eat well and train long enough to ask your body to dip into your fat (fuel you’ve saved) stores. If you are planning to complete an endurance event it is important you fuel well so your body has what it needs to finish strong. Your brain also needs energy to function well, too. Endurance is physical and mental performance.