"You Walk Wrong" Article, and How Pilates Can Help You Walk Properly
Posted Aug 24 2008 3:43pm
Hope you didn't miss the article, "You Walk Wrong", by Adam Sternbergh in the April 28, 2008 edition of New York Magazine! In case you couldn't tell by the title... the walk you walk is apparently all wrong. Having been through lessons in walking myself, I have had shocking moments when I realize that the way I've walked in the past was contributing to my aches and pains.
If you haven't read the article, check out the link at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, if you have some of these physical problems, it could be because you're walking wrong:
-pain in the front of the hips (at the top of the thigh)
-pain in the arch of the foot
-extreme tension in the groin
-low back pain
Pilates can help with all of these problems, and although there aren't any "walking" type exercises in pilates, a couple exercises in particular can help retrain your body how to carry itself with more ease when you walk.
First and foremost, learning how to have a neutral pelvis is key to walking properly. If you have any of the problems I've listed above associated with poor walking form, the habitual tilt of your pelvis while you try to walk your legs is a big factor.
The Pilates Side Kicks and Single Leg Circles are a great way to practice swinging and moving the legs free from the pelvis, the walking should also be.
Besides maintaining a neutral pelvis while walking, another important factor is the impact your feet make with the ground. You should maintain a slight spring in your step when walking, and rolling through your foot evenly- heel, ball, toe.
Running , on the reformer, is a really great truth-teller about how you walk when you're not on the reformer. When Running on the reformer, you should feel light and springy, as if you're prancing on the foot bar or trotting up a set of stairs. You should feel your core helping to lift the weight of your body up, up, up each time, so that its not just the feet moving the carriage in and out. If your focus is more on the lowering of the heel under the bar, that is a good sign that you are "down" in your body when walking. Instead of trotting up the stairs, perhaps you pound up the stairs?
Footwork on the reformer is also great for learning where your weight typically falls in your feet when walking. If you roll out to your pinkie toe on the footbar, if one foot turns out while the other stays parallel, or if you flex your toes back strongly instead of flexing your foot at your ankle, you most likely do these same habitual, non-beneficial movements while walking!
Keep in mind, too, if the above things happen when doing Footwork or Running on the reformer, the problem may not only be with your feet. A twist or imbalance in the hips, knees, or ankles could also cause these problems.
Another great exercise that reveals a lot about the way you walk is Chest Expansion on the Tower. You should use your core, drawn in and up, to steady your body as the arms press back. If, to steady yourself, your instinct is to thrust the hips forward and squeeze your sitz bones, you most likely do a similar thing when walking. "Leading with your hips" when walking, can cause hip pain, low back pain, and tightness in your leg muscles.
That's the good thing about pilates- you learn work and move your whole body correctly! So, physical problems associated with poor walking posture due to any number of issues can be greatly helped with pilates' full-body approach!
Here is the article, You Walk Wrong, from New York Magazine: