Walking is an important milestone that comes by your first birthday. From then on changes take place in your gait (the way you walk). Besides being a means of locomotion, walking is a good form of low impact and intensity aerobic exercise. Most of us make mistakes when walking, which reflect negatively on our health. It is very important to choose the right technique of walking to get the maximum benefits, without any injury.
Walking Mistakes to Avoid:
1. Over striding: Stride length, in simple words, refers to the length of each step taken while walking, running or jogging. We all have our own characteristic stride length. When you try to walk faster than your standard speed, you might try to increase your stride length. This may lead to poor posture and a painful back. Therefore, instead of taking bigger steps, go for shorter and quicker ones.
2. Walking Shoes: Choosing the wrong footwear will not only make your walk uncomfortable, but it will also make you prone to injury. Your walking shoes should be lightweight and should have a flexible sole to allow good freedom of motion by permitting your foot to roll through each step from heel to toe. Choose those shoes that fit you. If you walk for 30 minutes or more, then choose shoes larger than your dress shoes as your feet may swell when you walk for a long time. Prolonged walking with tight shoes can cause pain and cramping, while ill-fitting shoes can make “push-off” (application of pressure for the purpose of moving) difficult.
3. Walking Clothes: Improper clothing can interfere with your thermo-regulation (the ability of your body to keep its temperature within certain boundaries even if the temperature of the surrounding environment is pretty different) and can eventually affect your walking efficiency. Choose clothing according to prevalent environmental conditions. For example, in hot climes, wear fabrics like climacool or coolmax which help sweat evaporate away from the body.
Wearing dark clothing while walking at night can make you susceptible to accidents. For your own safety, wear reflector stripes or night glow badges.
4. Foot Slap: Foot slap occurs when at heel strike (i.e., when the heel makes contact with the floor), the forefoot slaps the ground (which means that you land flat footed) instead of rolling through from heel to toe. This can lead to pain in your shins. Foot slap can be due to weak dorsiflexors i.e. weak shins, heavy shoes, stiff shoes (inflexible sole) etc. In order to avoid foot slap, wear lightweight shoes with a flexible sole and low heel. Strengthen your shin by performing toe raises. To perform toe raises, stand on the ledge of a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Now, dip the heels down, then raise them high. Repeat 10 times. This is a simple, yet an effective way of strengthening your shins. You can also do heel walking (walking slowing, with small stride length, on your heels with your toes raised as high as possible) for 20 to 30 seconds to strengthen your shins.
5. Lack of Arm Swing: Normally while walking, you swing your arms to counter-balance your leg motion. Arm swinging can also aid in gaining momentum, thereby helping you walk at faster. Lack of arm swing can put a lot of stress on your back. So, make sure to swing your arms back and forth in opposing directions of the your leg movement.
6. Correct Walking Posture: Improper posture while walking, like bending your head, leaning forward etc. are commonly observed. These can lead to problems like neck pain, pain in the back and shoulder and breathing trouble. Whenever you intend to walk, stand straight and tall. Do not arch your back. Pull your stomach in, keep your buttocks tight and maintain the natural curves of the spine to prevent undue stress.
7. Over-training: The zeal to burn calories in order to lose weight makes many people walk beyond their capacity. They soon begin to feel tired and irritable, and pains and aches start rearing their ugly heads. In such a situation, it is better to take a break and refresh yourself. You must listen to your body and wait for it to recover. This is the best possible way to get ready for the next walking session.
Walking is a fun and it is a form of recreation during moments of leisure. You might take a great deal of interest in this form of physical activity, but wrong posture and incorrect walking techniques may negate your efforts. You might also suffer from injuries which can act as obstacles to your fitness routine. Adopting the correct techniques of walking is very essential in order to continue with your regular walks!
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