May 2010 home page


Walking the Good Walk
Julian Littleford | Camino Del Mar

Photo Art Olson

We all know how to walk of course. We know it’s good for us. And most of us don’t walk enough.

But did you know some walking styles can be bad for us? Incorrect walking techniques can stress joints and muscles, increase the risk of stumbles or falls, or impede breathing, to name just a few negatives.

Here are some simple principles of “good” walking:

Start with two minutes of stretching, especially legs. Use a stair or a curb to stretch calf muscles. Next, place one leg on a chair, straighten the leg and bend forward to stretch hamstrings. Don’t overstretch – just to where discomfort starts. Hold for a five count. If you have time, do these leg stretches a few times each side. Finally, standing straight, swing arms side to side to loosen torso, keeping the hips stable and engaging the abdominals.

Stroll for the first 50 yards or so to warm up. Then pick up the pace.
Your mother was right – stand up straight. Feet in line with knees, knees in line with hips, hips under shoulders, head back, chin up, shoulders back and pulled down. Focus on posture for the first block or two. Notice that your breathing is easier and fuller, your energy greater, with correct posture?

Footwear not only affects strike force on the ground, it can affect balance. Don’t cheat on shoes. Your mother was right again – wear proper shoes.

For two blocks focus on your core by pulling the belly button toward your spine.
Relax for a block or so – smell the roses or coffee, admire the view.

Back to work – how’s the posture? Sagging a bit? Slouching? Stand up straight.
Now the stomach again, belly button to spine.

Never overdo exercise of any kind, including walking. Start with short walks.
As we focus on these basics on our first few walks, they’ll become more and more automatic and our enjoyment of walking increasing. Then we’ll notice our posture in other settings has improved as well.

Julian Littleford has been teaching Pilate’s for 33 year and was a principal dancer with The Martha Graham Dance Company. His Pilate’s studio (a method that fosters and maintains body balance and structural soundness) enjoys a 19-year successful track record in downtown Del Mar. His satisfied clients range from children to octogenarians, as well as professional dancers and athletes.



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