I used to think walking was incredibly boring, something I’d avoid as much as possible. Give me a bike any day over a slow, boring, long, did I mention boring, walk.
That all changed when I decided to become a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist.
Walking is such an essential activity for optimal health. It offers benefits for bone density, pelvic floor function, breathing, the shoulder girdle and core strength.
When done well, walking is hard! Yes, we've been walking for years and years but most of us walk in ways that reinforce habits that set us up for a variety of problems. It takes a lot of thought to change those habits.
change your habits
There are two common habits that undermine the benefits you get from walking.
- turning out your feet
- walking with your feet too close together
Curious if this applies to you? Follow the steps below. Practice them first whenever you stand. Once you get used to them, try them out on your next stroll.
Stance Basics #1: Feet straight
Many, most, a lot of us, stand (and consequently walk) with our feet pointed out to the side.
It’s a funny thing. Our feet point out the side but we still somehow manage to move forward. When we walk with our feet pointing to the side, the ankle joint is forced to rock side to side as we travel forward. This side to side movement means less stability at the ankle joint and increased wear and tear at the knees and hips. It also decreases the ability for your glutes to work well - an essential piece for good pelvic floor function.
Find a straight edge of a book, or a wall or a line in your floorboards to use as a guide and line up the outside edge of your feet so they’re straight.
Yes, it's totally normally to feel "duck footed" or "knock kneed" when you get your feet straight. This will improve over time.
Stance Basics #2: Feet pelvis width apart
Many, many people stand (and consequently walk) with their feet either more narrow or wider than their pelvis. Unfortunately, this habit sets you up for increased wear and tear on your knee and hip joints and creates pelvic instability.
Let's fix that, shall we?
Feel for the bones on the right and left sides of the front of your pelvis, your ASIS. If you dropped a plumb line from your ASIS (a phone charger is a great make-shift plumb line), your ASIS should stack over the center of your knee and the center of your ankle (the plumb line swung a little wide in the photo). If it's not, adjust your feet until it is.
Here's your homework
Day 1: when you stand to brush your teeth, wait in line, make copies, wash dishes, chop veggies, etc. start noticing where the outside edge of your feet are, if they're not straight, line them up!
Day 2: when you stand to brush your teeth, wait in line, make copies, wash dishes, chop veggies, etc. start noticing how wide your feet are, are they hip width apart? If not, correct your width!
Practice this for a week as often as you can and notice how it gets easier the more you do it. When it becomes easier to do when standing, start taking your new skills for a walk. Walk a couple minutes focusing on keeping your feet straight. Then walk a couple minutes focusing on keeping your feet pelvis width apart. Rinse, wash, repeat :)