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How Walking Posture Affects Your Back, Hip, and Knee Pain

back pain foot pain hip pain knee pain posture

One of the reasons so many people end up with hip, knee, ankle and foot issues is that, as a society, we walk weird.

At some point in the last 100 years or so, we went from being able to walk miles a day without problems, to driving to the mailbox. Or my favorite, drive around for an extra 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot right in front of the store as opposed to walking an extra 4 minutes from a further aisle.

Some of the things we’re missing from just regular walking is that we tend to

1. lock out our knees as we step (watching my mom when she visited, I saw her do this and was like, “No wonder your knees – and hips and feet – are killing you!”)
2. not activate our glutes as we step (I have a personal theory why we don’t do this)
3. hunch over (also part of the personal theory I’ll explain below)
4. hold our breath

When you activate your glutes when you step, and stand tall with your shoulders down and back, you may feel like you’re taking up too much space, or drawing too much attention to your body. 

This is why I think most people walk this way, especially women. When our bodies develop into adulthood, we hide our breasts, slouching over in the process, and make small steps. In an active, healthy walk, you feel your glutes squeezing, moving, and going back and forth. This area of your body is related to sexuality, and so it’s another cultural hot spot that we’re taught to avoid (for our safety, to fit in, or for religious reasons, etc.) at a young age.

This is also why we hold our breath as we walk. Well, there’s probably a few reasons for that, like always being in a hurry and stressed. Breathing opens your chest and vice versa, breathing can only occur when your chest is open, relaxed, and proud.

When you activate your glutes when you step, you take the strain off the front of your hips and, at the same time, strengthen your glutes. This has a cascade effect – for better or worse. For better – strong glutes provide a great cushion for you to sit for long periods of time without pain. For worse – weak glutes can lead to lower back problems, and that’s a serious pain in the butt, right?!

I was going to include the video I have in my course, Pain Relief Masterclass, on walking posture, where I demonstrate and show you how to walk properly, but the other day, I saw this chameleon demonstrating it much better. I put together this quick video on proper walking that this little guy will teach you.

When you're walking, remember to:

1. Land with the front leg slightly bent

2. Keep your back heel on the ground for just a split second longer than you normally would, like there's gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe.  This will help activate your glutes as you push yourself forward. 

3. Keep your core engaged as you walk.  Don't forget about your core!  I include the neck as part of the core.  Keep your chin slightly tucked in to activate the throat/neck part of your core.  This way your eyes naturally rest on the horizon line as you're walking.  


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