Walking is so important for health. It is an effective mode of exercise for preventing obesity, burning fat, and elevating your mood. While almost everyone gets some steps in every day, there are many people who walk with bad posture or shoes. In this post, we will discuss proper gait and footwear so you can ensure you are reaping maximum benefits from walking.
How to Walk Properly (Gait)
- Stand with good posture. Many people slouch or hunch when they walk. We want to avoid this at all costs. To walk properly, stand with your back straight, head upright and in line with your body, and chin straight. Good posture keeps your back straight and helps you breathe better.
- Keep shoulders pulled back and down. Your shoulders should be relaxed (avoid elevating them towards your ears) and pulled back to support proper posture.
- Walk heel-to-toe. Start on the heel of one foot and roll forwards toward your toe. Alternating feet, repeat heel-to-toe for the entire duration of your walk. Walking this way helps ensure that you are using all your leg muscles and aren’t contributing to muscular imbalance.
- Swing your arms. You don’t want to be Raquel Welch in Seinfeld who walks with her arms stiff at her side. Instead, let your arms hang by your sides and allow them to swing naturally as you walk. The quicker you walk, the larger your arms should arc. Swinging your arms makes walking more efficient – you can use less energy to walk than you would if you kept your arms straight down at your sides.
- Check in occasionally to make sure your gait meets all the criteria above.
Shoes for Walking
We don’t usually give our shoes a second thought when we put them on, but it’s very important to wear proper footwear when walking. You want your shoes to be the following when you go for a walk:
- Lightweight and breathable
- Flexible (should be able to bend in your hands)
- Thickest cushioning in the heel
- Allow 1/2 inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe
- If you have high arches – get shoes that have better shock absorption
- If you have flat feet – get shoes with less cushion but more heel control and support
More tips for shoes:
- Replace shoes every 350-500 miles of use (typically 3-6 months) to make sure you have optimal support and cushion.
- Measure your shoe size at the end of the day. People’s feet size can fluctuate throughout the day, so you should measure them when they are at their maximum size (end of the day.)
- Buy the larger size if one foot is longer than the other.
- Running shoes are fine for walking, but the extra traction means you might trip on thicker surfaces like carpet.
- Cross trainers are excellent footwear choices if you combine walking with another activity such as weight training.
In a future post, we will delve into how to optimize walking for burning fat and calories. We will also discuss different types of shoes for different types of exercise.
See ya next time!