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Wharton Health Blog

Walk This Way

James Wharton

 

Humans weren’t designed to sit for long periods of time without moving, this was previously addressed in this blog. The desk jockey syndrome of over sitting is well documented; sitting has been labeled the new smoking. Being seated turns off the anti-gravity muscles of the posterior kinetic chain—or muscles that hold a person upright. What does this have to do with the walking gait? “Booty lock”-  the compression of vital gluteal muscles which are essential for efficient and correct biomechanical walking. With a glute that has basically “fallen asleep on the job” the front muscles of the body – quads, hip flexors, ankles-  must bear the brunt of the work and these muscles quickly become overloaded without the assistance from the glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles. Moreover, the iliopsoas—an important muscular chord that connects the trunk and pelvis - is typically so tight that there is no hip extension necessary to achieve an optimum walking stride. Throw in a little forward lean of the neck and rounded shoulders and the result is an alignment crisis. Unfortunately, this sequence of compensations has happened to most people at some point in their lives.

How should you walk?

Instead of lifting and shuffling with the flexor muscles in the front of your body, push and swing with the muscles behind as well. Transition from the posterior swing, to anterior swing, then anterior stance, finishing with posterior stance and then repeat for the duration of your walk. Be advised that without hip and trunk flexibility and stability you will not be able to take advantage of muscular levers that allow the full range of motion and muscular activation.

Gotta Have That Swing

Stand up tall and bend your knees. Place on leg behind the other. Activate or squeeze your glutes and upper hamstring and swing your back leg forward. Repeat this pattern – remembering to cue the muscles from behind and avoid overworking the muscles in front.