Walking Technique - Proper Walking Posture

Woman speed walking, profile, against blue sky
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How you hold your body is important to be able to walk comfortably and easily. With good posture, you will be able to breathe easier and you will avoid back pain. Great walking posture will also make it easier to walk farther and to walk faster. If you've had problems enjoying walking because you feel aches and pains afterwards, the first thing to check is your posture and how you carry your head and shoulders.

Steps to Good Walking Posture

  • Stand up straight. Visualize being tall and straight, like a tree. Do not arch your back.
  • Do not lean forward or lean back. Leaning puts strain on the back muscles as you walk, and you should avoid leaning except when on a hill. Unfortunately, some coaches have taught leaning for speedwalking, but it is not necessary and often people lean too far forward or back.
  • Eyes: Keep your eyes forward, not looking down. Instead, your focus should be about 20 feet ahead of you. This way you will be able to see your path and anything coming at you from the sides.
  • Chin up (parallel to the ground). Keeping your chin up reduces strain on your neck and back. If you walk with your chin down you are not doing your neck any favors. This will also allow you to look ahead 20 feet rather than down at your feet. Walking with the head down is a common walking mistake.
  • Shrug once and let your shoulders fall and relax, with your shoulders slightly back. Loosening up the shoulders in this way will help relieve tension and put them into a position to use good arm motion while walking.
  • Suck in your stomach. Your core muscles can help you maintain good posture and resist slouching and leaning. Keeping your stomach pulled in slightly (while still taking deep, full breaths) can help you maintain good walking posture.
  • Tuck in your behind and rotate your hip forward slightly. This will keep you from arching your back. You shouldn't have a walking posture with your butt sticking out.
  • Resist the urge to engage with your smartphone while walking, you will end up looking down at it and lose good posture. After each time you look at your phone or other walking gadgets, mindfully regain good walking posture. Otherwise, you may fall back into poor posture without realizing it.

Practice Good Walking Posture on Every Walk

How poor is walking posture in general? I've watched many walkers at walking events and on treadmills at the gym and it is a parade of bad posture habits. If the average fitness walker spent the first 15 seconds before walking getting into a good walking posture, they would have a much better walking workout.

Before a walk on the treadmill, through a park or just down the hallway, check your posture. Even when you are just getting out of a chair and heading to the down the hall, take a couple of seconds to check your posture. Soon it will become a good walking habit.

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