2015, Series 4, Week 4 - How You Walk May Be Hurting Your Neck and Shoulders

Certain lifestyle traits in our part of the world mean that most of us spend a lot of time with our arms out in front of us, sit for lengthy periods and have tight leg muscles. All of these things contribute to the rounded upper back known as Kyphosis. A certain amount of curve in your thoracic spine is normal, but most of us have a fair bit more than that - which we unconsciously disguise with rib thrusting.

Today we will start looking a little more deeply into that habit, because it is at the root of so many problems from pain anywhere in the limbs, to pelvic floor disorder, to back, neck and shoulder pain and even breathing and digestive issues (you could add foggy head, headaches and many more.)

Because of the tensions in our bodies and the lack of use of some key muscles we are pitching ourselves forward with almost every step. Sure it feels easier to get around quickly, because we utilise momentum rather than muscle, but there is a high tax to pay in the load on the joints of the body.

Our Gait basics program comes to the rescue here again. We add the tension releasing somatic work and some new shoulder girdle specific movements today - but it is key to release the muscles in the legs and strengthen those lateral hip muscles so that we can move around in an upright position and maximise our movement health potential.

  Ben Pobjoy achieved weight loss and wellness goals  well beyond his expectations just by slowly increasing how much he walked each day. He started off with 20 minutes a day, and Katy Bowman's program was one key aspect of his journey.  Tattoos are optional.

Ben Pobjoy achieved weight loss and wellness goals well beyond his expectations just by slowly increasing how much he walked each day. He started off with 20 minutes a day, and Katy Bowman's program was one key aspect of his journey.  Tattoos are optional.

Top Walking Tip: I listen to books and podcasts while I'm out moving. Generally they are on the subject of wellness and moving anyway - so I'm often able to apply what I'm learning immediately. Here is the link to Katy Bowman's podcasts. They are all free and on a huge range of topics - including episode 26 which is all about Ben.

I walk a lot which gives me a lot of time to catch up on my reading (ok listening) and study. You can do phone calls while you are out too. Handsfree headphone attachments (that come free with many phones these days) leave you free to work on your arm swing. I tie my dog to my very stylish bumbag to make things easier, but if you can't do that then try to include off leash areas so that you can work on your arm swing too. But sometimes I just listen to the birds in the trees and laugh at my dog and take it all in. You don't always have to multitask!

 You too can mimic this awesome style. Strangely no one else in Newtown has, but my mate Nicole is rocking the bumbag look down Jan Juc way. Did you know we are on the crest of the wave? It's true I tell you,  check out this article from the New York Times . I tie Bart the wonder-dog to the side of mine so I can arm swing. But he only weighs 7 kilos so that may not work so well if you have a Labrador. Also note, elbow pitts are forward and thumbs straight ahead (a big focus today as we look at externally rotating those shoulders, who knew elbows had pitts too!? Yay!)

You too can mimic this awesome style. Strangely no one else in Newtown has, but my mate Nicole is rocking the bumbag look down Jan Juc way. Did you know we are on the crest of the wave? It's true I tell you, check out this article from the New York Times. I tie Bart the wonder-dog to the side of mine so I can arm swing. But he only weighs 7 kilos so that may not work so well if you have a Labrador. Also note, elbow pitts are forward and thumbs straight ahead (a big focus today as we look at externally rotating those shoulders, who knew elbows had pitts too!? Yay!)

Rocking an even more glamorous look - here is a quick hand stretch in preparation for some monkey bar antics. I just don't know why my career as a tele-journalist didn't take off.

HOMEWORK WEEK 4 - SERIES 4, 2015

You can do your whole Gait Basics handout now, or you can continue to add one exercise a week. Please continue to work with your Hand Stretch each day as well.

  • Foot Alignment
  • Calf Stretch
  • Hand Stretch (not part of gait basics but very important! This is the calf stretch for your upper body!)
  • Foot Stretch
  • Double Calf Stretch
  • Standing Arm Swing (ok I've thrown in another extra. But this week was all about the shoulder girdle and arm swing is a huge part of taking care of it. You want toned triceps, work on that arm swing. You want optimal metabolic function and about 50 other awesome things just walking around? You guessed it - work on that arm swing. I'll even describe it in detail for you:)

Standing Arm Swing:
Your arms should swing front-to-back when you walk! Practice restoring your natural swing standing in one place with this exercise, keeping arms parallel and elbow pitts facing forward. Your arms work on the BACK SWING, and relax when they swing in front. Try single arm variations, then double arms and then alternate. And then see if you can incorporate it with your walking. Be patient. You may have been doing it a different way for a long time and there is no rush.

Side Note:
Congratulations for reading right to the end. Gold star to you.
Holding anything (handbag, small human) always on the same side can really affect the health of that shoulder. Try switching sides regularly.

OK, really, this is it, but I had to let you know I've just set up a YouTube Channel with Playlists for you. Whenever I add a new clip to the blog it will also be posted there. So it is your one stop shop for your somatic muscle tension releases and your movement health exercises too. It's the best kind of shop, because it is free!