Thursday, October 2, 2008

Walk with Gravity (But Remember to Smile!)

Gravity is the relentless force that you feel as weight on your feet. Good thing, because we'd all be flying off into space without gravity. So what is so important about remembering the basic law of gravity?

There are 2 ways to think about gravity as it relates to your gait. You work with gravity or you fight it.
  • When you fight gravity your gait is mostly up on your toes (or forefoot).
  • Work with gravity by bending your ankles and sinking into the ground (exagerate ankle bend so that your entire foot is on the ground).
Here's a test you can do to find out how you're working with gravity.
  1. Stand with your knees and ankles slightly flexed.
  2. Now bounce gently.
If your first movement is up -- you're bouncing on your toes and tend to be working against gravity. (And developing strains and pains in your body.)

If your first movement is to slightly bend your knees and go down before you go up, you are working with gravity. Good for you!

Bouncing "up" mostly on your toes doesn't use your entire foot and places strain on your toes and forefoot. You'll tend to lean forwards to move with each step. The result is strain and eventually pain.

Bending your knees and ankles has the opposite effect. Your balance becomes grounded, steady and secure. You expend less energy and are stable.

So what do you do when you walk so that you are working with gravity? Keep your feet straight and bend your knees and ankles as you walk. Exaggerate the movement when you first practice this. Integrate knee and ankle bend into every step of your day and you'll find your balance and muscle tone improving and minor aches and pains related to walking will diminish. Less pain and more strength is surely a reason to smile.

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