Michele Stanten by Michele Stanten

Walking form

Good posture will make it easier to go the distance. Here are some posture pointers for stronger striding during your next walk.

Tip #1: Stand up tall. Imagine that a wire attached to the crown of your head is gently pulling you upward. Walking erect will keep you moving at a brisker pace.

Tip #2: Keep your eyes on the horizon. This will help you to stand taller and avoid stress on your neck and low back.

Tip #3: Lift your chest and tighten your abs. Using muscles in the front of your body to straighten up will take pressure off your back.

Tip #4: Bend your arms. You’ll be able to swing your arms faster, which helps increase your speed. It also prevents swelling caused from blood pooling in your hands as you walk longer distances.

Tip #5: Relax your shoulders. Your arms will swing more freely, and you’ll avoid upper back and neck tension.

Tip #6: Maintain a neutral pelvis. Don’t tuck your tailbone under or overarch your back.

Tip #7: Keep your front leg straight but not locked. You’ll have a smoother stride and be able to propel yourself forward more easily.

Tip #8: Aim your knees and toes forward. Proper alignment will reduce your chances of injury.

Tip #9: Land on your heel. This facilitates the heel-to-toe walking motion that will carry farther and faster than if your foot slaps down on the ground with each step.

That may seem like a lot to think about, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Start from the top of the list and focus on one tip at a time. Pay attention to this area of your body at the beginning of your walk, and then periodically check about every 15 to 20 minutes (don’t constantly focus on it) to see if you’re maintaining good posture. If not, simply get back in alignment. Do this for about a week and then move onto the next tip. Some changes may happen quickly while others may take some time to become habit.

To help Americans increase their physical activity through walking, ACE has created a free toolkit that supports Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkable Communities. It contains a variety of resources that can be used by individuals, community organizations, faith-based institutions, schools, employers, etc. to encourage and support individuals to walk more and create walkable environments.

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