How Well Do You Know How to Walk?

Chances are, you learned to walk when you were just a toddler and you haven’t really thought about it much since. It’s easy to nerd out on other fitness activities, like running or weight lifting. But, walking is something we often take for granted.

During the current pandemic, however, walking is having a moment. A simple stroll can go a long way to clear the mental cobwebs and stop your fitness tracker from screaming at you due to your newfound Jabba the Hutt lifestyle. Before you start putting in the miles, it’s worth taking a look at how you walk. After all, it’s a repetitive motion and thousands of steps per day can put a lot of stress on your entire body—not just your legs and feet. Here are some tips from orthopedic experts on how to go for a walk without abusing your body.

Having a clear idea of what a step actually involves can help you visualize how to walk correctly. Every step happens in two phases: stance and swing. Jessica Rose, a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stanford University and director of the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital provides the following description: “Typically, the stance phase starts with the leading foot making heel contact with the ground, followed by a heel-toe progression of the weight-bearing foot. The Swing phase starts with rapid hip, knee, and ankle flexion to clear the foot from the ground, the knee then rapidly extends to prepare for the next step. To assist with balance and forward momentum the arms swing in a reciprocal manner, the opposite arm swings forward with the leading foot. A single gait cycle of stance and swing typically lasts about 1-second.” Your brain does all of that instinctually, but understanding the parts can be valuable in assessing where you might have weaknesses and can help doctors assess any pain you’re having.

Excerpted from Popular Science

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