'Walking is not walking is not walking' (Katie Bowman)
Updated: Jan 31
This blog follows on 'Walk Along the High Water Line': A series of blogs on 'Moving Better'.
My walk along the high water line reminded me that there is more than one way to walk. Normally I would walk in my habitual 'repetitive' way. The next day I walked on the beach, I tried varying my speed, jogging barefoot on the hard sand, then I walked on the soft sand and then jogged again. The variation felt invigorating at first and I noticed my entire body was working harder. Although, I must confess, the following day I experienced pain in the muscles in my feet, calves and my one hip. A lesson well learnt, early on in my endeavour.
Over the years, our habits in the way we have moved, contributed to certain 'adaptations' in our bones and muscles, often resulting in spine, knee or bone problems. By making a few small adjustments in how we walk, we can activate more muscles, stabilise more joints and create the necessary forces which contribute to healthy bones, hips and feet. When you take your next walk, try do it differently.
A note of warning: A lifetime of walking in shoes and smooth surfaces has adapted the body to a point that if you abruptly change your ways, it can hurt. Starting slowly will help you to transition well, without causing unnecessary injury or pain. Transitioning well is a topic I will address in another blog, 'Progression to Perfection'.
Tips for 'walking better':
Vary the distance and frequency of your walking:
Walking the same distance time and again, will not reap the benefits of walking longer distances. During and after endurance walks, you will experience certain physiological benefits. Oxygen distribution to cells and muscles continues for longer, even after your walk, which helps to build muscles and increase stamina.
In addition to varying your walking distances, also vary the frequency. Being mindful of walking throughout the day rather than one long walk, can have a positive impact on our well-being.
Varying the surfaces you walk upon:
The more you choose to vary the surface you walk upon, the more variation in your joints, (ankle, knee, hip, pelvis) and the greater the use of different muscles in the body.
Walking on uneven surfaces allow the foot to deform over the surface, increasing the use of the bones and muscles in the feet (taking some strain off the ankles).
Walk of the beaten track with varying grades:
During my walk along the high water line, I noticed a significant improvement in awareness on how I moved. I chose my steps more carefully to prevent stepping on a sharp edged shell or spraining my ankle on the uneven terrain. Your stride becomes shorter when you vary the grades (with inclines and declines), increasing your steps per hour. This makes you work harder even though your speed might slow down. Speed is therefore not necessarily the only measure of how hard you work. The added benefits of walking in nature is that you connect more with your body and your surrounds, feeling calmer with more clarity of mind which contribute to your overall state of health.
Walking with optimal alignment:
Your alignment while walking determines the distribution of loads imposed on our bones, muscles and joints. With repetition, misalignment can lead to imbalances in muscles which can be detrimental to bone and joint health. Alignment is a huge topic on its own. For that reason I will address this topic in more detail in a separate blog.
Did you know
Waterleidingduinen (source: waternet.nl)
In the Netherlands there are many walking trials in the Dunes. The perfect place to vary your inclines and the surfaces you walk on. One of the famous Dune areas close to Amsterdam is the Waterleidingduinen. It has an amazing history and has an important role in cleaning the drinking water of Amsterdam and surrounds. Read more.....
Natuurmonumenten also offer various nature walks across the Netherlands. Take some time to visit some of these nature trails offered by Natuurmonumenten. Read more.....
At In-Sync Pilates, we pride ourselves in educating our clients and creating awareness of how they move. Through our blogs, videos and suggested reads, we keep our clients inspired to ‘move better’ in their daily lives beyond the hour in the Studio.