One of the best exercises you can do is to simply walk, but I am not talking about a simple stroll around the park although that is better than doing nothing!
Believe it or not, walking is not that easy to perform correctly – just take a look at people when you are next at the shopping mall or out and about. You will see people slouched and moving with no awareness or purpose.
If you have read my articles on functional strength and with reference to the squat, you will know about what I tem ‘form’ and I will go over it again. Stand with your back to a wall and with your heels and the back of your head touching the wall. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes facing forward.
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Now holding that position, allow your whole body to very slightly fall forward and you will have to take a step with either leg to stop yourself falling over. This is the basic motion of walking. Your legs are simply absorbing the weight of the body and they are not ‘driving’ the motion. There is a huge, but subtle difference!
To further emphasize this walk, but exaggerate the walk by leaning backwards with your upper body – now you almost have a conflict of interest with your torso going one way and your legs the other! The forward ‘leaning’ motion is however very subtle and don’t over exaggerate it – it is just enough to set you in motion and probably not even an inch in movement, it is almost imperceptible.
Now to the exercise – you are going to walk but you will now learn to match the breath with the walking motion.
Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth matching one step to the inhale and one step to the exhale, so it is one step breathing in and one step breathing out. Take as deep a breath as you math the breath with the speed of the walk and start slowly.
Work up to say 20-30 steps until you are totally confident with the action and now comes the interesting part – move on to two steps on the inhale and two on the exhale. You know what is coming next – just keep working up until you can take as many as twenty steps on the inhale and twenty on the exhale. Make sure however to control the exhale to the number of breaths on the inhale – it is easy to rush the exhale – don’t!
Now this is a fantastic way to eliminate boredom when walking and of course, you can use it while running too. Make sure that as with everything, you start slowly and work up gradually!