Guest Author - Carla Cano
Walking is one of the safest forms of exercise. It is often the starting place for many that have not done any kind of exercise in years. There are very few injuries that are associated with walking. However, just like anything else in life you must be prepared. Every walker needs to be sure to have the proper shoes, clothing, and identification each time they walk. Another vital thing that every walker needs to maintain is proper posture. Posture is important in many ways throughout our day not only when walking. Proper posture helps strengthen muscles, aids in digestion, blood circulation and proper breathing. Good posture is defined as having a balanced body and a strong, straight stance. Maintaining proper posture helps fight fatigue and discomfort in your spine, shoulders, neck, and legs.
Proper Posture Tips
When walking hold your head high, with your chin parallel to the ground and your eyes looking forward about 15 to 20 feet, not at the ground in front of you. Keep your back straight and tummy tucked slightly to help strengthen both your abdominal and back. Bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle and moving them in a swinging motion close to your body. Move naturally and smoothly, rolling your foot, heel to toe. This seems easy to do, right? Many people find that they experience discomfort when walking, especially beginners. Most of the time the discomfort is due to improper posture.
We have been walking our whole lives and with little to no thought as to how we are doing it. However, there are common discomforts that occur, such as, back soreness, shoulders aching, leg soreness, and foot injuries that directly relate to posture. Understanding how you walk and what you need to fix about your posture can make your walking much more pleasurable. It can be a little tricky to determine what it is that needs to be fixed about your posture. There are a few exercises you can practice daily to understand and improve your posture.
3 Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Exercise 1 : Danny Dreyer, author of ChiWalking suggests walking backward to get a better understanding of what needs to be changed in your posture as you walk. Start walking at your normal stride then simply begin walking backward. Pay attention to the changes in your stride, your back and foot placement. Take about eight to ten steps. Your strides will be shorter and your back straighter. Now when you have walked backward for a short distance shift to walking forward again without stopping. This may take a little practice but it will make you aware of what needs to be adjusted in your posture.
Exercise 2: Another exercise to practice is to think of a string attached at the crown of your head being lightly pulled toward the sky. This will lengthen your neck and the rest of your spine will straighten out as your body lengthens in an effort to align with your head.
Exercise 3: If you are having back pain when walking it is often related to improper posture. If you are feeling discomfort in your back think of your belly button trying to touch your spine. This will lengthen and tighten up your core. It will help build abdominal muscles as well as strengthen your back muscles.
Practice these exercises throughout the day and eventually they will become second nature. Maintaining proper posture will increase efficiency in your walking program as well as decrease risk of injuries. You will be much more comfortable and burn more calories, bending your arms can help burn 5 to 10 % more calories than walking with your arms hanging at your side. You will also see positive results in body shaping and muscle conditioning. So get out there and try these exercises to be sure that you are maintaining the best posture while walking.