Picture this: you’re walking around your neighborhood on a beautiful Saturday morning. You smell the air, look at the scenery and wave to people on your street. But how is your walking posture? Are you slouching and dangling your arms by your side? Are you lifting your feet? If you’re like most people, the way you walk doesn’t even pop into your mind – but it should.
Walking can improve your balance, lift your mood and prevent serious illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure. But as you grow older, you can form bad walking habits such as slouching, dragging your feet and twisting your body, all of which can lead to back pain, discomfort and injury.
They say habits are hard to break, but fixing your walking technique can be a breeze with a few easy steps.
Here are three ways you can improve your walking technique:
1. Remember “heel to toe”
It may seem simple, but a majority of people forget to practice this proper stepping method. Step onto your heel, roll onto the ball of your foot and lift your heel off the ground with your big toe. This will prevent injury to your foot and ankle, and help you keep your balance and stability.
2. Be aware of your posture
- Make sure your head is up and looking forward
- Keep your back straight by slightly tightening your stomach muscles
- Your neck, shoulders and back should be relaxed
- Swing your arms naturally with a slight bend
- Your hips should shift slightly when you walk, but never fully rotate to the side
3. Find your personal stride
Every person has their own unique stride. You can strain your muscles if you attempt a longer or shorter stride than natural. If you’re looking to increase your speed, try taking more steps per minute to prevent injury.
Your spine is affected by everything you do, even walking! After some practice, these adjustments will become a natural habit. It’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your spine so it can support you for years to come. So keep your head up, your back straight and march “heel to toe” forward on your journey to a healthy lifestyle!
If your back pain makes walking difficult even with these adjustments, contact the Spine Health Institute at (866) 986-7497.