(Hey that’s funny because my friend’s last name is Walker and that’s not what I meant but Hi!!)
By Walkers, I’m really referring to allllll the people who have discovered or doubled down on walking outside as their movement of choice during our Covid shutdowns.
Hi everyone! Thanks for inviting me here today. How’s the walking going?
At this stage of the meeting we’d share highlights of our favorite routes- seeing trees flower and leaf out all spring, making friends with squirrels and cardinals and in one case a neighborhood llama, discovering magical hidden forest paths and evil poison ivy. (I know it’s not the poison ivy’s fault, it’s just trying to not get eaten, but it does SUCH a good job…shudder)
And now we get to the heart of this discussion. How’s the actual walking going? How are your feet, your ankles, your shins, your hamstrings, your hips? How about the low back, shoulders, and neck? Any soreness, tension, unevenness, inflammation, or pain?
Mmm, yes, I thought there might be. And yes, I have some ideas for you. But my first one, the baseline suggestion if you will, isn’t going to be as sexy as you might like. Here it is:
I’m asking you to pay attention to something even more important- you.
- How do your feet feel on your path? Can they even feel?
- Are you walking by tipping forward, or by pushing from your back leg? Can you tell?
- Do your hips lift your legs, or swing them around to get them in front?
- How deep do your ankles bend on an incline?
- Can your feel your spine muscles on the opposite side of a step helping keep you up?
- Do you lead with your chin, your chest, your pelvis, or your foot?
I know- we’re so used to the outside stimulation of our earbuds and our trackers and even our walking partners, and what I’m describing here is essentially a walking meditation.
Getting quiet and paying attention to the internal outputs, instead of the external inputs. This is challenging. But try it. Pick a section of your regular route to pause your phone. Spend a few minutes in quiet between songs or episodes. Investigate one new sensation or observation each time you go out.
Or. And. Here’s a bigger shift you can try- wear thinner shoes, and see how that feels. Get your individual foot structures moving more. Explore texture, changing surfaces, temperatures, angles and slopes, starting with the pads of your toes.
- 26 bones
- 33 joints
- 19 muscles
- And 107 ligaments and tendons
At least a few of them have been napping on the job, so take it easy- they’ll wake up grumpy, but waking them up is important. Strength, balance, endurance, all come down to your feet.
Yes, there are lots of particulars that we can talk about with regard to things like a posterior push off, pelvic tilts, even breathing work, all in pursuit of improving your walking mechanics and thus your whole self. We’ll get to them. But first, we need to know that you’ll even notice those mechanical changes. Let’s see how much you can build your “proprioception”- your sense of yourself moving through space.
I challenge you to go for a walk with more attention on your moving body, in thinner shoes, on different surfaces, and see how it feels to you. Comment below or use the #walkthiswaychallenge hashtag to show me something you did differently in your walk today.
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