Everyday I either help someone to improve the quality of their walk or see someone in the street who needs it. A beautiful walk projects confidence and is a great way to practice controlling your movement patterns.
Focusing on a great walk requires attention to posture, movement patterns and control of center of mass. Given that we are all up on our feet at least twice in an hour (we are all doing that right?) it allows us ample opportunity to practice the fundamentals of good movement. Furthermore, a quality walk is a powerful way to reap the reward in fantastic physical presentation that beautiful movement gives. Simply put, walking well looks great!
While we can get caught up in the minutiae of walking mechanics there are a few key form points that you can start using today. These cues will help you to ensure the fundamentals of your walk are rock solid. They are also to easy implement so have fun with your practice!
Parallel feet: Keep your feet relatively parallel and forward facing! Yes there is a slight out turn on the heel strike as shown in the video but the general gist of your foot positioning through the whole step is forward facing. All to often I see people with far too big an out turn on their foot. This “duckie walk” positioning is weak, looks terrible and makes you far more prone to injury at the foot and knee. Avoid it.
Heel-to-toe roll: Your heel should contact the ground with a very slight out rotation so you stike on the outside edge of the heel. As you roll through the middle of the step your center of mass transfers from outside to inside so that you are pushing off your big toe.This should be a smooth transition. Keep your movement from the heel strike to the toe push-off quiet and flowey (if you aren’t sure what that means, perhaps the demo in the video will help)
Arm swing: For goodness sakes swing your arms when you walk! Failing to do this not only makes you look like a frankenstein robot but also robs you of the trunk rotation that balances out the natural pelvic rotation that occurs through your stride. If you have a nice arm swing and the associated trunk rotation you’ll be more balanced and your walk will have flow which is what we are going for!
Lead with your chest: My ballroom dancing instructor would be thrilled to see me suggest this and correctly so! Initiating movement by shifting the chest forward (from the ankles - see video for details) changes your center of mass so that you are forced to step forward just the right amount to achieve a good stride length while avoiding the heavy heel strike that comes with over-striding (stepping out too far in front of the body, again see the video for details).
Take a look at the video, there is a demonstration of these simple principles there as well as a few other tips and tricks that will help make your walk slick. Then get out there and start doing these things every day. It’s the first step in a world of beautiful movement!
Further reading (if you really want to impress your friends):
Starrett, K. (2016). Deskbound. Sttanding up to a Sitting World. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.