Walking - a lesson in observation
It's a beautiful summers day today but how many people have taken the time or have the awareness to observe the little things going on around them?
Most people from my experience of asking where they look and have their vision directed will probably be looking no more than 30 feet in front and for a lot of people it will be a great deal closer than that. Why I often ask and they reply that they need to see what they are walking on and where they are going to take their steps, there is a fear of falling, tripping or standing in something unwanted. I then counter this by suggesting that the only way you can actually see where you are going to place your feet is by directly looking down at our feet which is very difficult and none of us want to do that.
So what is actually going on when we are walking. Our eyes act as receptors for the brain and take in information which then used to adapt to where we walk and our balance or propreoception also adapts to changes in the surface so minor adjustments are made to how we walk. Now this can be done by looking 30 feet in front or 100 feet in front of us as the brain is still taking in the information and processing it and making corrections or changes as required.
As I have previously discussed in other blogs the head is very heavy (about 10-14lbs) and if you lower your vision and drop your head this will put a huge strain on the muscles supporting your neck and be a potential cause of neck pain. So next time you are out walking try being more aware of your surroundings notice where the focus of your vision is and be more attentive.
In terms of how we walk there is no correct way to walk but there are ways to improve our fluidity and balance when walking. So here are a few pointers. Firstly, think of your support from the ground, the soles of your feet, sense your socks in your shoes and really let the ground support you. From this base we can think obout the support that our skeleton gives us - up the shins, up the thighs, through the pelvis and up the spine to the crown of the head and including the space above our head. When we are walking it is important that we maintain our true height, often people enter a purposeful "stoop" as soon as they walk (not a good look!). Rather than taking large srides, try shortening your stride a bit as large strides can create a shock through your heels and up through your knees. Try thinking of the back foot rolling from the heel towards your toes as your weight shifts forwards resulting in a spring off the bendy part of your foot. As you spring off your back foot think tall. Try this walking slowly at first maybe barefoot in the house and as you speed up just let your arms swing naturally with the rythmm of your walking. If your arms don't swing it probably means there is some stiffness somewhere and you are hindering your movement to some degree.
So give this a go and remember in walking there is no right or wrong just habit.
This is what Brian had to say about his Alexander Technique lessons:
"I decided to walk across to the retail park today. When I got back and checked my fitbit it said that I had covered 5.4 miles for the day. Seeing that I had only been pottering about in the house before that including a lot of time at my computer desk, I must have walked near enough five miles. Normally I would have been in pain and my lower back almost completely seized. I am happy to say that I only had sore feet (probably from wearing light trainers), a few achy muscles and a slight pain in my lower back. I could have happily continued."
Feel free to use this as a recommendation.