< Back to More Help

Walk yourself to better health

I thought this would be a good time to encourage everyone to take some exercise and look at how to walk. As an Osteopath, I am often watching people’s walking style, feeling that I would like to give them some advice. Walking is one of the earliest skills we develop but from about the age of 8 children start copying the way their parents walk, usually picking up bad habits!

The benefits of walking

Just remember, prior to the last century, walking was our primary way of transport. Walking can be as challenging as you wish to make it. It’s good for cardiovascular fitness, increases your metabolism so can be used to encourage weight loss and because it is a weight bearing exercise, it strengthens your bones by increasing your bone density. Another benefit to taking exercise is that you reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer. There is also a link between exercise and back pain – those that exercise, generally experience less back pain – as I have discussed previously www.theodihamclinic.co.uk/exercise_helps

Tips on walking correctly

Firstly, the better your posture, the more efficient your walking will be. If you are not in balance, your muscles have to work harder to compensate, becoming tired which is when they start to ache. If you need a spinal / postural assessment, we would be pleased to help you. Otherwise, here are some useful tips on how you might improve your walking style:

  • Hold your head high and look forward, not at the ground
  • Keep your back straight and gently tighten your abdominal muscles
  • Walk in a straight line with your feet pointing forwards
  • Walk heel to toe, ie. on the heel of your foot, roll forward onto the ball of your foot and then raise your heel and push off with your big toe
  • If you need to carry a bag, use a ruck sack or ‘bum’ bag to ensure your arms are free
  • Avoid clenching your hands
  • Keep your arms close to your body and bend your elbows to 90 degrees, swinging them in time with the opposite leg
  • Avoid leaning when walking up / down hills and relax your knees more on the downhill, to absorb the extra impact (walking poles may be helpful)
  • If you are aiming to get fit or lose weight, walk at a pace where you are slightly out of breath but can still talk
  • If you wish to walk faster, take more steps per minute, not longer steps

Get started!

So why not set a challenge to walk yourself to better health, there is no better time than the present! And once life returns to a level of normality, if you prefer to do it with some company, you could consider joining one of the organised Hart Health Walks.