Most of us likely don’t give much thought to how we walk or whether we are walking correctly. But knowing how to walk with the right technique and good posture can help:
- keep your bones and joints aligned properly
- decrease wear and tear on your joints, muscles, and ligaments
- prevent back, hip, neck, and leg pain
- reduce muscles aches and fatigue
- reduce the risk of injuries
- improve your balance and stability
Walking with the right technique and posture isn’t difficult. But it does involve being mindful of how you move. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to walk properly with good posture.
Walking is an activity that involves your entire body. To fully understand how to walk correctly, it helps to focus on each part of the body, from head to toe.
Keep your head up
When you’re walking, focus on standing tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your ears aligned above your shoulders.
Imagine your head being pulled up gently by an invisible piece of string that’s attached to the ceiling. This may help prevent you from dropping your head into your chest while you walk.
Keep your eyes and gaze forward. Focus on an area about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you while you walk.
Lengthen your back
Focus on elongating your spine while you walk. Try to avoid slouching, hunching, or leaning forward, which can put stress on your back muscles.
Keep your shoulders down and back
Your shoulders also play a key role in your walking posture and technique. If your shoulders are tense or hunched forward, it can strain the muscles and joints in your shoulders, neck and upper back.
To ensure that your shoulders are correctly aligned while you’re walking, do the following:
- Bring your shoulders up high in a shrug-like motion, then let them fall and relax. Using shoulder shrugs helps relieve tightness or tension, and puts your shoulders in a natural position that allows you to move your arms easily.
- Try to keep your shoulders loose and relaxed, not tensed up toward your ears or slouched forward. You can do shoulder shrugs occasionally while you’re walking to ensure that you’re keeping your shoulders relaxed and in the right position.
Engage your core
Your core muscles also play an important role when you’re walking, and help you move more easily.
As you take each step, focus on tightening and engaging your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. This can help you maintain balance and stability. It can also relieve stress and pressure on your back as you walk.
Swing your arms
As you walk, gently swing your arms back and forth at your sides. Make sure you swing your arms from your shoulders, not from your elbows.
- Don’t swing your arms across your body.
- Don’t swing your arms up too high. Keep them around your midsection, not around your chest.
Step from heel to toe
Maintain a steady heel-to-toe gait. This involves striking the ground with your heel first, then rolling through your heel to your toe, and pushing out of the step with your toe. Avoid flat-footed steps or striking the ground with your toes first.
To prevent injury or too much wear and tear on your muscles and joints, try to avoid the following habits.
- Don’t look down. Looking down at your feet or phone too frequently can put unnecessary strain on your neck.
- Don’t take very long strides. Your power comes from pushing off your rear leg.
Researchhas shown that overstriding can put too much stress on your lower leg joints.
- Don’t roll your hips. Your hips should stay as level as possible while you walk.
- Don’t slouch. To avoid back and shoulder strain, keep your shoulders down and back when walking or standing, and focus on keeping your spine elongated.
- Don’t walk in the wrong shoes. If you’re going to be walking for more than a few minutes at a time, be sure to wear shoes that fit comfortably, have good arch and heel support, and are well cushioned to absorb the shock of your feet hitting the ground.
There are numerous physical and mental benefits of proper posture and good walking technique. These benefits include:
- Pain-free muscles and joints. Walking properly can help you avoid putting unnecessary stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints throughout your body.
- More energy. Walking with poor posture isn’t efficient. It can wear your muscles out faster, whereas walking with good form can conserve your energy.
- Better lung health. Walking tall with your shoulders back allows your lungs to expand fully, making breathing easier and more efficient.
- Improved circulation. When your body is properly aligned and moving correctly, it makes it easier for your blood to circulate to all parts of your body.
- Improved digestion. Your body is better able to digest your food when your internal organs aren’t compressed and there’s healthy blood flow to your digestive tract.
- Greater core strength. Your abdominal muscles benefit from walking tall and being properly engaged.
- Fewer tension headaches. If you walk with your head help up, not bending forward, it can help reduce neck strain, which may lead to fewer tension headaches.
- Better balance. When you walk properly with the correct posture, it may help improve your balance and make you less prone to falling.
Walking properly with the right technique and posture has many benefits. It can reduce unnecessary stress and strain on your muscles and joints, prevent back pain and muscle aches, reduce your risk of injuries, and much more.
Walking with the correct gait and posture isn’t hard to do, but it may take some practice. Some key tips involve walking tall, keeping your head up, your shoulders relaxed and back, and your core tightened.
If you have any issues with your walking gait, or are unsure of how to walk with the correct posture, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist about ways to improve your walking technique.