With the right walking posture, you can not only walk longer, but you also reduce the risk of injuries. We asked former marathon runner and exercise expert Gerard Nijboer for his advice on a good walking technique.
Your natural walking posture
Body postures and movement patterns are partially inherited from your parents. In addition, it is influenced by external factors. For example, your shoes and the work you do affect your walking posture. Everyone has a different posture and therefore not one is good or bad. Do you often get muscle pain or cramps after walking? Then this is a sign that you need to pay more attention to the right walking posture.
Tips to improve your walking posture and technique
First of all, it is important to loosen your joints before walking in order to improve the walking technique. The most important joints are the shoulders, hips, and ankles. The best way to loosen your shoulders is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and tilt your upper body forward and look down. Then use your arms to make big turns, like a mill. To loosen your hips, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and turn your hips from left to right. Make sure your head stays as still as possible. Release your ankles by placing one foot back and keeping your weight on the front foot. Keep your hind leg stretched out and then use your hindfoot to rotate, using your heel to make as much movement as possible.
There are a number of things to pay attention to:
1. Always walk up straight.
It is important to walk upright. You can achieve this by looking forward. Focusing your gaze about 50 meters forward. Also, make sure that you don’t lift your shoulders too much. If you are tempted to do this, tension will arise in your neck muscles. This can cause cramping of the upper back and shoulders. The advice is to always walk in a relaxed way. A relaxed walking technique is stimulated by moving your arms loosely along your body while walking.
2. The motion of your foot
Also, pay attention to your stride while walking. Almost everyone has a heel to toe walking stride. This stride goes as followed: strike the ground first with your heel, roll through the step from heel to toe, push off with your toe and bring the back leg forward to strike again with the heel. The push-off by your rear foot is the key to walking with power and speed. Unfortunately, many people have a bad habit of taking a longer step in front. This puts more stress on your lower leg joints, and it doesn’t give your stride power. Think about keeping your back foot on the ground longer and giving yourself a good push off to add power to your stride. Your feet are rolling through the step from heel strike in front to pushing off with your toe in the back. Flexible shoes will ensure you are able to roll through the step. If your feet are slapping down rather than rolling through the step, your shoes are likely too stiff.
3. Active legs
In addition to a good foot stride, the stance of your legs is also crucial. The advice here is not to pull your knees too far up while walking. But, of course, you should also not walk shuffling. In other words, walk with active legs. Pay attention to this while and you will notice that walking becomes easier: a good walking posture is half the work!
Walking & Health
Contrary to running, there is no ‘float phase’ in walking (that both feet are off the ground). As a result, the joints are spared and walking is easier for the joints than running. Still sensitive to injury? Take smaller steps. This will limit the shock absorption during the walk. By making smaller strides there is less ground contact, which limits the chance of overloading.
By walking more often, you develop your muscles. These muscles provide a more stable walking technique. Challenge yourself to walk more with the eRoutes App. Besides being able to walk a route of your choice, by selecting the number of kilometers yourself, you can also choose to train towards a personal goal. You do this by following a free training plan, developed by Gerard Nijboer. The app challenges you to walk or run a number of times a week and therefore works as a positive motivation to actually get more exercise. Perfect!
Take your first step by downloading the eRoutes app on Google Play or in the App Store
About Gerard Nijboer
Gerard Nijboer is a former marathon runner and exercise expert. He gained great fame in the Netherlands for winning Olympic silver and the European title on the marathon. He is also a three-time Dutch champion on the 25 km and three-time Dutch champion on the marathon. He still holds the Dutch record on the 25 km and was the Dutch record holder on the marathon for a long time. Gerard is currently giving clinics and presentations on topics related to health & vitality, perseverance and setting goals.