According to the American Heart Association, walking is becoming the most popular form of exercise. Depending on who you talk to, it is recommended that you walk 150 minutes a day, that’s about 7,000-8,000 steps a day or almost 5 miles. That is the perspective for heart health, but what about the mechanics of walking? Is there a proper way to walk from a physical therapist perspective? The short answer is yes.
Improper walking can lead to a host of issues that can lead to strain and pain in your back, hips, knees, and ankles. Here are two easy tips for proper walking.
1. Push, Don’t Pull
First, most of us are so used to walking that we rarely think about HOW we walk. For some people, they start with the leading leg and pull their body forward. For proper walking technique, you should not be pulling yourself forward; you should be pushing yourself forward with the non-leading leg. Your glutes (a/k/a your buttocks) should be doing the work for each step by pushing yourself forward. If you want to practice, try walking with your hands on your glutes so you can feel them engaging.
2. Swing Your Arms
Arm movement is an important part of your walking mechanics. You don’t have to swing your arms and raise your fists like a power walker; you just want to get enough of a swing where it feels natural and gives a little twist to your mid-section. This natural motion will help with your hip rotation and hip elevation. Which arm to swing? If your right foot is forward, your left arm should swing forward. Opposite arm, opposite leg.
3. Handbags, Purses, and Backpacks
Last year, we talked about preventing chronic pain caused by backpacks. Shoulder bags, purses, and even crossbody bags can be even worse. Your body is built to move symmetrically. When you are toting extra weight on one side, you limit motion on one side. Backpacks are a better option than a shoulder bag. If you do use a shoulder bag, consider switching shoulders once in a while.
Renew Physical Therapy is Located in SE Portland
Renew Physical Therapy is an independent manual physical therapy clinic that was established in December 2015 by Michael and Heidi Cantwell. Our facility features three private treatment rooms and an open gym area to treat all our patients’ needs, including neck and back pain. You can find us at 11010 SE Division Street in Portland, Oregon.
Renew Your Body, Reclaim Your Life!