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7 Keys to Mindful Walking

These "focuses" provide centering points for your mind and directives for your body so you can move more easily and effectively. Before every walk, pick just one focus and hold it in your mind during your entire session. When your mind drifts, gently bring it back to your focus. You'll come back to the present moment while keeping physically balanced and aligned.

1. Tune in to your posture. Maintain correct postural alignment of your shoulders, hip bones, and ankles during your walk, making sure they form one straight line as you move forward. Note where you tend to compromise your posture, whether it's in letting your shoulders hunch forward or collapsing your chest.

2. Level your pelvis. Pull your lower abdominals in, tilting the pubic bone up and leveling the pelvis-think of your pelvis as a bowl full of liquid that you don't want to spill. By maintaining this balance, you will strengthen and engage your core muscles and stabilize your pelvis while you walk.

3. Lean forward. Rather than walk with the hips forward, leading with your legs as many of us do, focus on leading with the upper body by tilting forward slightly from the hip joints (not the waist), keeping your alignment.

4. Bend your arms. This helps you walk faster and more energetically. If you choose to walk more slowly, allow your arms to swing lower.

5. Extend your legs behind you. Rather than kick your legs out in front of you as you walk, let them extend behind with each stride. This prevents impact on your knees and helps make your stride more fluid.

6. Keep your stride consistent. Your stride should feel comfortably short without straining the muscles of your lower legs. Don't let your stride grow longer as you pick up speed, as this increases impact on the knees and overstretches the muscles; instead, take shorter, quicker steps.

7. Let your cadence guide you. Your cadence is the rate at which your feet hit the ground. To maintain an even stride length, use a slower cadence with fewer steps for slower speeds, and let your cadence increase with speed. In general, 110 to 130 steps per minute is slow paced, 130 to 140 steps per minute is medium paced, and 140 to 145 steps per minute is fast paced.

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