Most people walk like penguins. Their feet point outward and it causes all kinds of problems with the ankles, calves and knees. Just take a look at how people walk. Very few people point their toes straight ahead of them as they walk. Once, you start looking for it, you will see this everywhere.
On top of that, most people plant their heel hard into the ground and then slap the ball of their foot afterward. The heel strike puts a lot of stress on the knee. Then, consider most people take thousands of steps a day.
Half of the solution is the shoes we choose to wear and the other half is learning the skill of how to walk correctly. Once, you learn both of these things, you will be setting yourself up for success and it will take care of many issues in the body.
Remember, our feet are what come into contact with the ground, thousands of times a day. Add that up over a few decades and you can see why walking with bad form can lead to all kinds of issues. And that doesn’t even take into consideration running and jumping, which puts significantly more weight and pressure on your joints.
You want to make sure you are NOT damaging your joints. Instead, you can be strengthening and protecting your joints, improving your movement and athletic performance, etc.
So, I want to quickly take you through how to walk correctly and naturally, to keep your feet and calves in good alignment to protect your knees hips, low back, etc. First, take a look at the short video below…
The Problem with Unnatural Shoes
One of the biggest problems we face is that most people tend to wear unnatural shoes and walk on unnatural ground. On the one hand, there are high heels and stiff, dress shoes that make it impossible to walk naturally. Those shoes do not allow the foot to land properly.
They are so stiff that it’s almost like your feet are caged into a box. These type of shoes lead to serious muscle imbalances (weak, unstable ankles, tight calves, etc), which set you up for injury, decreased movement potential and potential joint pain in the knees, hips and low back.
The second part of the problem are most athletic shoes. Even here, they tend to be way too stiff and/or the heel is too padded. This gives you a false sense of security and most people end up landing on their heel (the heel strike), which puts a ton of stress on the knees and low back.
We need our shoes to protect our feet and provide comfort, but look for lightweight shoes that have minimal heel padding and allow your feet to move freely.This is the first critical component to being able to walk correctly and naturally. You can do it barefoot, but you also need to be able to do it when wearing shoes. This will give you the tools you need to be able to walk the right way as outlined next.
How to Walk Correctly
Okay, so let’s assume you found some excellent lightweight shoes that have minimal heel padding and allow your feet and ankles to move naturally. What you want to do is land on the outside of the ball of your foot and gently roll inward. Last, gently place your heel down on the ground.
This will enable your feet to gently land gracefully with each step and take the stress OFF the knees and low back. Try to make sure that your toes are pointed straight ahead, not outward like a penguin.
Then, when you step off the ground, try to put the majority of your weight on the big toe and push from there INSTEAD of the outside part of your feet. This will help you utilize all the muscles in your calf instead of just the lateral (outside muscles).
This walking form will help you balance out the musculature in the calf, so they aren’t always so tight. You can foam roll and stretch as much as you want (that’s good), but if you are overworking the outside muscles of your calf with every step (that’s bad!), which means you will just be undoing that good work with bad habits.
I always use the analogy of a paper cut… You need to clean it and put a bandage on it to heal. Bad walking habits for a tight calf are like sandpaper on that cut. Until you fix bad walking form, the calves will never be able to relax.
How to Walk Naturally
Once, you have natural walking technique and good, lightweight shoes, you will start to feel more like you are gliding on the ground when you walk, instead of treading heavily upon it. It has an incredible domino effect on the whole body. It will help alleviate stress on all your joints and actually help your posture too.
I cannot stress how important it is to take the time to get good shoes and practice walking correctly and naturally ALL the time until it becomes second nature. Eventually, you want to ensure you keep that great form when you run, jump and move with power. So, if you walk with intention and good form, eventually you won’t have to think about it when you run or play sports.
Obviously, fast movements can lead to injury much easier, so making sure you know how to walk and run safely should be at the top of your list for improving performance and protecting yourself from injury.
This is one of the easiest ways to fix some postural distortions, loosen up tight calves, improve ankle stability and take stress off your joints. I hope you will work on it and improve your walking, jogging and running technique with these tips. your body will thank you for it, trust me!!
How to Rehab your Feet and Ankles
If you have weak, unstable ankles, super tight calves, achilles issues, old foot injuries, etc, I created a super easy rehab program, which you can do entirely at home in easy steps. The goal is to get your ankles strong, mobile and stable, while removing calf tightness and fixing muscle imbalances in the calves.
HEM Ankle Rehab is a complete ankle healing system that works for any calf, ankle or foot injury. HEM will help you heal much faster and better than traditional strategies and ensures you will be able to move pain free while also significantly reducing the risk of future injury.
HEM dramatically improves the quality and speed of the healing process by supporting and improving the body’s natural response to an injury. You can expect a significant improvement in healthy range of motion in the ankles, feet and calves… you can expect much more strength and stability in the ankles… and you can expect improved overall movement (balance, agility, speed, jumping, etc.).