Walking is a fantastic activity with numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, weight management, and reduced anxiety. However, to maximize these benefits and safeguard your physical and mental well-being while walking, it’s important to be aware of certain habits to avoid. Podiatrist Thien Trinh, the founder of Stryda, an insole and sneaker company, has shared six common walking habits that should be steered clear of:
Leaning backward: Leaning backward while walking can work against your body’s natural movement. Trinh recommends leaning slightly forward, utilizing your body weight as momentum.
In-toeing: Walking with your feet angled inward, a habit seen in both children and adults, can unfavorably rotate your knees. Avoid in-toeing.
Out-toeing: Similarly, walking with your feet angled outward can force you to strike on the outside of your heel, leading to angular forces that affect your knees, hips, and back. It’s best to keep your feet facing straight ahead and push off through your big toe when taking a step.
Taking short steps: Short steps can be inefficient and create a stop-start pattern, disrupting the continuous flow of your movement. Longer steps engage your glute muscles more effectively.
Swinging arms unevenly or not at all: Proper arm movements are essential for an efficient walking routine. Uneven or absent arm swings can lead to imbalances throughout your body, affecting your spine, hips, knees, and more.
Crossing your midline: A walking style where your feet cross over your body’s midline with each step, similar to a supermodel’s gait, can lead to issues with your knees, hips, feet, shins, and IT band. Avoid this cross-over gait.
While it’s natural to occasionally fall into these habits, Trinh advises against persistent engagement in them, particularly as you age. Taking care of your body and using walking as a tool for maintaining fitness and health is vital. If you experience any pain or discomfort while walking, consult with your healthcare provider for guidance.