The Correct Way to Walk

It is a well-recognised fact that in order to achieve a general good health a person has to follow three important steps: 1) healthy standard of living. 2) Healthy diet. 3) Daily exercises. And here is where the walking exercise really assumes a special importance.

Walking is regarded as one of the best, healthiest, cheapest and most accessible form of physical activities. Does not require attending a gymnasium, the purchase of complicated apparatuses and can be done at any convenient time because is sufficient to step out of the door and take advantage of the many roads, foot paths and parks always available to anyone willing to use them. 

But to achieve the desired wellbeing and to receive the greatest benefits, walking must be correctly executed by following and using properly the various, readily supplied, muscles and joints available within the body and do it in accordance with the rules of nature.

Therefore becomes logical to start and examine the components involved in the operation starting from the ground up.

The Feet 

First of all we have the feet; the feet are very often the most neglected part of the human body and yet they are the first to come in contact with the ground and offer support to all the structural part of it.

We stand on them when getting down from bed, we use them for walking, running, balancing, jumping, playing football etc. just to name few activities. 

They are often completely disregarded, in fact, are frequently used totally unprotected by shoes or other covers yet they carry, uncompromisingly, all the body’s weight starting from the heels right through their formation and up to the very tip of the big toe. One third of the body’s structural bones are found between ankles and feet.

When you get up in the morning, stop for a minute, and take a close look at your feet before moving around, and consciously consider what you are examining and how you are going to use what you see and what you are going to receive from them.

The exercise of walking involves much more than just putting one foot in front of the other. Nature has provided us with a series of joints and tendons assisted by the appropriate volume of muscles, supported by bones, to guarantee a smooth and orderly forward movement.

Their arrangement, during hundreds of years of evolution, has endured the testing of time and that is why, if those rules of nature are not followed, one will develop what is commonly referred as “ache”.

It is important to distinguish the difference between “ache” and “pain”. Pain is generally caused by a deterioration or malfunction of an organ within the body while, on the other hand ache can often be referred as a warning call, coming from the brain, that a part of the body is not appropriately used or even not used at all.

The distinction becomes relevant since the first one requires medical assistance while the second one, many times, can be remedied by listening to what the brain communicates and a change of action or attitude becomes limited to the will of the individual unless there is an external reason or some genetic problem.

 Obviously the definition could be subject to individual interpretation depending on its severity or degree of tolerance but ultimately the most significant aspect is its origin.

Is important to recognise the reference of the will of the individual since sometimes, is more convenient to say “but my case is different and there is nothing they can do” (making reference to professionals or medications). In such case the battle is lost even before it starts since the obligation of doing something is deflected on someone or something else rather than harnessing the positive power of the mind instead of capitulating on the negative one.

Following this considerations it appears that a great number of people have forgotten or do not consider how to walk properly, in other words walk without using the muscles, joints and tendons the way nature intending to use them, consequently  a substantial number of hip, back and foot related problems develop.

Therefore if one examines the distribution of the body’s weight during the process of walking, one can clearly see that nature has given us a specific set of muscles to support in a proper way the structure during the normal action of walking.

We have, in fact, a substantial amount of muscles surrounding the hips followed by a reduced amount for the thighs and followed then by a further reduced amount for the calves.

 This gradual reduction of muscular volume indicates their exact proportional ability to carry us during the normal forward motion.

 Every part, given by nature, is expected to serve a specific purpose and if the intended purpose or order is not followed, problems become inevitable, problems which sometimes, could extend to the required replacement of the different parts involved. Following on we come to the calves.

The calves

The cave’s muscles together with the tendons, are to operate and assist the functioning of the feet ready to take the propulsion force that must start from the heels and end with the big toe. (This last observation is not only important but essential), its benefitsare clearly noticed and felt when walking uphill and will, at the same time, promote the blood circulation within the feet with all the related benefits.

Such consideration explains why the calf muscles are at the back of the legs with the tendons (if we pay attention) also bundled at the back of the knee in order to pull up the heels while the muscles take the weight and the impact on the ground before it reaches the knee. Here is where lays the origin of so many knee aches and replacement.

During the forward movement, when the heels are pulled up by the muscles and tendons (as mentioned), the feet must be maintained flexible and rotating with the propulsion ending on the big toe pushing the body ahead with the assistance of the calves arrangement. 

Knee problems are sometimes wrongly attributed to the malfunction of the tendons which, as we can see, being located at the back the knees, serve the purpose of lifting the heels and not operating the knees.

Thigh Muscles

Moving up, we come to the thigh muscles, which considering their size, as assigned by nature, are for the operation of the Knees.

Hip and Buttock Muscles

Finally we reach the hips and buttock muscles which, given their greater mass, are for the functioning of the whole leg. They are more than just a pretty sight but must be called into actions during the whole process of walking and their importance becomes more evident, for example, in a case of hip replacement.

In fact, if used properly, it is interesting to notice that the recovery, after a hip replacement, is faster and less painful than, for example, in the case of knee or shoulder replacement simply because the hips are assisted by a greater volume of muscles.

Other Suggestions 

During the walking action the abdominal muscles must exercise an upward push of the upper part of the body and spread its weight right across distributing the task of carrying it. 

The spinal cord has to be maintained flexible by pivoting it at the belt line and moving it in unison with the hips and the legs on a synchronized way, in other words as the right legs moved forward the right hip swings forward with it, followed then by a similar action of the left side. 

At this point becomes useful to remember that massages, ointments and pain killers, often, will not mend an aching joint but proper and regular movement will.  The upper part the torso and the shoulder’s line are maintained 90 degrees in respect of the direction of walking.

The above courses of action are intending to assist in making the most of the mysterious mosaic of bones, blood vessels, muscles and articulated  tendons which are the real workforce allowing the body to walk as “homo erectus” controlling how we have stood and moved through thousands of years of evolution.