Walk This Way
I love to walk but Sandy Connor, who recently retired from The Clubs at Charles River Park, helped me refine my techniques to get the most out of each walk. Correct posture, arm swing and stride add up to higher intensity exercise and lower risk of injury.
Posture: Stand tall, with shoulders pulled back and relaxed and lead with your chest. Keep your head level and your chin up. Pull your navel up and in, and contract your buttocks with each step.
Arm Swing: This makes walking a total body activity. Keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and swing from the shoulder. On the back swing the upper arm is almost parallel to the ground.
Stride: Make your stride short but smooth. The foot should roll from the heel, to the ball, to the toe as it pushes off. Make sure to warm up at the beginning of your walking workout, by walking at a comfortable, easy pace for 5 minutes. Always end your workout with that same easy pace to cool down. Intensity can be added by increasing your speed at several intervals during your walk.
At whatever level you are walking, stretching is a good idea afterwards. Warm muscles respond better to stretches than cold ones. So save your deep stretches until you’ve completed your workout.
The following three stretches are appropriate for post-walking:
- Calf: Hands against wall or tree, place one foot well behind you. Keeping the rear leg straight and the heel on the ground, lean in toward wall or tree.
- Quadricep: Hold onto wall or tree for balance. Reach behind you and grasp ankle of one foot, pulling thigh gently back until you feel tension along the front of the thigh.
- Hamstring: Stand on one leg and put the other leg up on a bench, a fence or a chair. Reach upper body toward foot of elevated leg, feeling a stretch along the back of the thigh.
Thanks to Sandy Connor, happy walking!