There are many layers to walking well and one of them is to gradually introduce more of it into your life. Even 10 minutes of walking has been shown to improve brain function (click here to read a recently published article on just that) but it’s easy to fall into the trap of jumping into the car to go grab the milk or for any number of other chores in our daily lives. About five years ago I changed that way of thinking. Now I challenge myself to leave the car at home as much as I possibly can and on the weekends the family joins me. We grab a backpack and walk to the market or shops. Our third backpack is going off to university soon, but she thinks walking to do your grocery shopping is normal now, so we’ve planted some good seeds for the future. You save petrol money, you get a free workout and it’s great for the environment too. What used to seem a long way to me feels like nothing now. Your body will adapt pretty quickly if you take your time to gradually add distance to your routine.
Optimal Walking….week by week
The strength, space and motor skills we are working on take time and repetition to develop, so please don’t feel that you need to be fluent in all of these ideas already, but here is what we have covered so far:
Week 1 - revealing your masks (or compensations)
Once you’ve found them you can work on letting them go. For e.g. in a single leg balance you might need to bolster by holding onto a chair to be able to relax the quadriceps of the standing leg but with practice the need for the bolster lessens. There are lots of ways we mask as we discovered in classes.
Week 2 - hip extension (pg 172, Move Your DNA)
Did you notice the ways we distort the body to take the leg back behind us? (a key element of walking well) Great! Because that’s your incentive to practice your iliac release, lunges and quadriceps releases as often as you can. With their help the need to compensate eases greatly.
Week 3 - knee cap release and external thigh rotation (Page 74 -78, Dynamic Aging and various MYDNA)
Are your kneecaps really releasing with ease? Have you practiced in front of a mirror recently? It’s an important motor skill and often we don’t realise just how much we are clenching the quadriceps (and toes and so on). It’s well worth working on and you can do that any time you are in a chair or standing up too. Neutral knee pitts (external thigh rotation) will be a lot more feasible when our knee caps are released so they go together nicely. They are important for your mobility, your bone density, pelvic floor health and more. There is a great video below from Katy Bowman which refreshes knee cap release and external thigh rotation.
Week 4 - Feet and Keeping Them In Their Tracks!
I’ve written many blogs about your feet over the years and Katy Bowman has devoted two books to the subject, that’s how key they are to your whole body health. If you are having trouble with your hips, look to your feet, your balance….look to your feet……your knees, back, pelvic floor……..you get the picture. It’s also key that we actually have them the correct distance apart though, click here for a recent blog on why that’s such a good idea.
Each week we’ll weave the ideas of the previous weeks into the class so you can keep reinforcing them to yourself. These are the things I think about every day when I’m moving around. Even now while I type this I’m standing on a pressure point mat, in external rotation of the thighs, toes and knees released and weight back over heels. I can feel my shoulders getting a bit stiff from the typing so shortly I’ll be doing some upper body releases too. Classes are great, but it’s the real world where we are going to get most of our movement (or lack thereof!) So get moving groovers and I’ll see you out in the world (standing on one leg hopefully) ;-)
PS. And I love this photo from Heidi, who lost her 1/2 dome at the airport - but look who is filling in for her in the meantime. You don’t need fancy gear to release that lower leg tension, and it will definitely improve how you move. Good one Heidi!