A Simple Guide to Walking

On these beautiful summer evenings, a gentle stroll is a wonderful way to end the day.

When we were travelling in early June, we walked for miles through Paris and London, ending our days with strolls down Boulevard Saint Michel or through the streets of Bloomsbury as the last thing we did before bed. And it felt great.

The human body loves to walk. It’s been doing it for millenia, and if our minds get out of the way, it does a great job of it.

I always feel bad when I see people limping or shuffling or walking with their feet turned funny. I want to stop them and show them that if they just relax their body and let it move naturally, they will walk more easily.

Of course, most shoes don’t help.

Why not take some time this summer to practice walking the way your body likes to.

Start with your feet. First of all, do your shoes have adequate padding for the surface you’re walking on? The most important job of a shoe is to protect the spine from the jarring of the foot against concrete.

Stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes facing forward, feet and knees relaxed.

Move your foot forward, toes still facing forward, not to the side. Put your heel down, then the ball of your foot, then gently push off with your toes as your other foot supports you. Pause in mid stride—the forward foot flat on the ground and the back one partially raised, with just the ball of the foot on the ground. Notice what your toes and feet are doing. Notice the tiny muscular movements in your feet and legs that are keeping you balanced. What is the rest of your body doing? Any clenched muscles you can relax? Any constricted spaces you can lengthen?

Next take a few steps, making sure your toes are pointing forward. Does it feel funny? Most people turn their feet out or in a little, causing problems with the knees in the long run. So start now to practice walking with your toes pointing in the direction you are walking.

Next, focus on the upper part of your body. Look forward and balance your head evenly on your shoulders. Let your neck be long and loose. Relax your shoulders and let your arms swing naturally with your steps. Relax your fingers.

Allow your back muscles to relax. See if you can let your spine elongate with the upper part stretching up and the lower part releasing downwards to your lower back and hips. Allow your thigh bone to move in the hip joint, swinging forward easily.

There’s no need to move quickly. Instead, let your face relax into a little smile, let your shoulders and hips move with your steps, and allow your body to enjoy the walk.

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