What Is the Correct Way to Walk (or Run or Jog)?
By Genevieve Cunningham
We learn to walk and run at a very young age. We crawl, we walk, we run. It’s the natural path of movement. Once we finally find our legs, we’re constantly on the move.
As kids, we walk and run everywhere -- at the playground, in the backyard, with our friends. As we get older, walking and running happens less and less often. With less time for play, there’s simply no need for so much free-time physical movement. We have cars to take us where we want to go and fewer friends to keep us moving.
If we’re walking or running as an adult, it’s with purpose -- to get fit, lose weight, or meet a particular goal. But if the simple act of walking or running has turned into a way to get healthy, we have to ask ourselves: Are we doing it the right way? Maybe we should take a closer look.
What Are the Benefits of Walking or Running?
Whether you choose to walk or run, both forms of exercise are incredibly beneficial to our overall health. Here are some of the potential benefits.
- Increased cardio health - Walking and running is good for the heart. Over time, this kind of regular movement helps lower your resting heart rate and lower blood pressure both during exercise and after. High blood pressure is a major contributing factor to heart disease, which makes this exercise particularly good for the long-term health of your heart.
- Weight loss - Walking or running can help with weight loss. Participating in at least 30 minutes of walking or running every day can help burn calories and shed excess weight. The faster we go, the more calories we can burn. Take this into consideration when setting your pace and choosing between a light walk and a more serious run.
- Stronger immune system - It’s thought that any regular exercise can help strengthen the immune system, leading to fewer sick days on average than non-fitness friends. This includes both walking and running when done on a consistent basis.
- Muscle and bone health - Getting regular movement helps to strengthen the bones and muscles. Since we lose bone density and muscular strength as we get older as a part of the natural aging process, it’s important to combat this effect with exercise. Either walking or running may be just what you need.
The best part about choosing walking or running as exercise is that you need very little equipment and you can do it no matter your age. Whatever your age or condition, you can begin a walking or running routine to help you get in the best health yet.
National Walking Day is in April, which might be the perfect excuse to put on some walking shoes and take a trip around the block.
What is the Correct Form?
If you’re going to walk for exercise, it’s important to walk properly. If you’re going to run, it’s important to use proper running form. What does that look like? It’s important to keep a few tips in mind.
If you’re walking, good walking technique will include the following.
- Use good posture - You’ll want to stand tall and keep your shoulders relaxed. Walking with poor posture can lead to back pain.
- Swing your arms from the shoulders - An arm swing happens naturally when we walk or run. To protect the health of your arms and upper body, make sure that your arms are swinging from the shoulder instead of the elbow.
- Keep a light step - The faster we walk, the more tempting it is to throw our foot on the ground without thought. The foot should roll gently from heel to toe in order to maintain foot health and avoid pain.
Although many of these tips are good for both walking and running -- like good posture and a good arm swing -- there are a few tips that will change when you’re looking to create a good running technique.
- Keep relaxed hands - Along with a relaxed arm swing that originates in the shoulder, you should also keep your hands and wrists relaxed. Clenching your hands can create unnecessary tension throughout the body.
- Midfoot strike - If you’re jogging, make sure that the middle of your foot is hitting the ground first during your foot strike. Heel striking when running can damage your feet and cause pain.
- Forefoot strike - If you’re sprinting, you’ll want to change your foot strike once again. Sprinting requires your forefoot to hit the ground first in order to absorb the impact and protect your body.
Are There Any Risks?
Like any exercise, walking and running must be done properly in order to prevent injuries. Though the benefits heavily outweigh the risks, here are some of the risks associated with walking or running.
- Foot pain - This is a common complaint of walkers, joggers, and runners. Foot pain is usually caused by too much exercise, poor form, or unsupportive shoes. To prevent foot pain, make sure that you’re exercising in moderation, following proper form, and wearing a supportive pair of running shoes at all times.
- Joint pain - Running, especially, can cause pain to the joints. If this is a problem for you, make sure to pay attention to form, and slow down to a walk if necessary.
- Fatigue - Fatigue is most frequently caused by overdoing it. Slow down. Enjoy the process.
How to Minimize the Risks and Stay Healthy
It can be much easier than you think to minimize risk and make walking or running your thing. Start by beginning your fitness journey slowly. Doing too much too quickly puts your body at risk. You can also consult with the following professionals.
- Get a checkup - See your general practitioner to get some guidance. They’ll let you know how to begin, how much is too much, and can help you monitor your progress if you so choose.
- See a physical therapist - If you ever become injured, your general practitioner may refer you to a physical therapist. This professional can help you heal your injuries and maintain your health throughout the exercise process.
- See a chiropractor - You won’t need a referral to get chiropractic care. Seeing a chiropractor regularly can help maintain the range of motion and health of your joints, lower the risk of pain, and help you get in overall better health. They may also be able to give you tips for proper exercise form and tips for health in everyday life as well.
Walking, jogging, and running are all effective ways to improve your overall health. Whether you do it slowly on your own, join a running group, or aim to compete in a 5K or marathon, it’s important to get moving safely. With a little motivation, good form, and a team of professionals in your corner, you can run your way to the best health of your life.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.