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Walking - The Good Way

by G Ravishankar(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 99 - May 2004

Most of us never think about it, but the way we walk broadcasts a lot about who we are. What's more, research suggests that our walking styles affect the way we feel about ourselves.

Psychologists claimed that communication among human beings is 7% verbal, 30% toe and 55% body language. Whether these figures are correct or not, it's plain that we speak with our bodies. In fact what we don't say can be more influential than what we verbalize. We constantly transmit and receive non-verbal messages, often revealing our attitudes before we say a single word. So, what messages are you are giving out? And how should you walk for maximum external and internal effect? Find yourself in these six styles, and then adjust your stride accordingly. Doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways is a unique aspect in all walks of our lives. Walking is an ordinary activity. How we walk, affects the course of our life. My friend John confessed: "I want to walk as much distance as possible. It keeps me healthy. However, I need to adopt a right style of walking." If we adopt negative technique, can we expect good health? Possibly not! We need to adopt a prudent style at the right time at the right place. People may go in for walking in a congested place where vehicles may emit smoke. That will not help to get good health. If we walk somewhere green, it will certainly help. Walking in a peaceful way can add advantage to people of various kinds.

What about age?

Depending upon the age, walking styles may differ. Young people may hate walking, and prefer to run. It will be helpful if they start learning to walk fast rather than running. Middle-aged people may walk in a cautious manner.

They may be careful to see that they're not too much exerted. Careful walking is good indeed, but too much hesitation may not be helpful.

Positive or negative feelings

A person may walk with negative feelings and he may think about things of the past or what to do in future. He is completely absent-minded while walking. Contrary to this, if a person walks with a positive attitude, he can help to lead a healthy life.

How walking affects our health

Walking is of course good for health and the following aspects need to he examined:

1. How we walk and what style we adopt. We see girls going in for a 'catwalk' to attract onlookers;
2. Where we walk;
3. When we walk – whether it's in the morning, evening or night. While some people can have a walk in the morning, others may prefer to walk a mile after a dinner.

A positive attitude can help to achieve optimum results. Researchers have classified walking into various types. People may adopt different styles. What about the military march where strict disciplined is maintained? We observe the military march with curiosity – hands and legs move in a simultaneous manner to create a beautiful look.

Types of walking

Analysing different types of walking will help to adopt the right technique:

The Loser

That's what you will look like when you walk with slumped shoulders and your head and eyes are pushed downward. If you are a woman walking down a lonely road, this gait could be an invitation for attack. In some cases through, especially if you are a man, slouching can make you look like a nice guy, a little less intimidating to people who are shorter than you (read 'women') and also to people who work under you. If your head and eyes aren't pointed directly at the tips of your shoes, don't worry about a slightly slope of the shoulders. If you look like a walking question mark, you definitely need lessons in posture improvement. If you're vertically challenged, remember that slumping your shoulders only make you look shorter.

The Head-hanger

Do you drop your head and eyes like someone who has just lost his keys down a storm-sewer-grate when you walk? It was this position that spawned the word 'downcast' and the phrase 'to hang your head in shame' and it signals defeat. Many head hangers unwittingly tilt their heads slightly lower than horizontal even when they they're holding their heads high. Keep your chin up, and look to the horizon. Make an effort to keep your head level and your eyes straight ahead. Don't be afraid to swivel your head and survey your surroundings. You'll convey that you're comfortable in your environment, alert, and confident, even if you're not – women note!

The Fidgety Hands

There are some individuals – typically men – who don't know what to do with their hands when they aren't lugging a briefcase or a bag of groceries. Either they stand around with arms hanging limply at their sides (too open and vulnerable), storm down the street fists clenched (too aggressive), or walk with hands jammed into their pockets (nervous and uptight, and too closed off from others). Let your arms swing freely and keep pace with your legs. You'll look more confident. Keep your hands where you can see them. Walking with your hands in your pockets may feel comfortable, but it disturbs your natural stride.

The Travolta

The Travolta - The Leaning Tower - Pigeon Toed - The Loser - The Waddler - The Head Hanger - Fidgety Hands
The Travolta - The Leaning Tower - Pigeon Toed - The Loser - The Waddler - The Head Hanger - Fidgety Hands

If you have a natural saunter, bounce, spring in your step, it will come from your hips and legs. Up to a point, natural bounce can make you appear energetic and light in your feet, but too much and you'll just look like a cartoon character. Your hips and legs determine the speed at which you walk – slower is better. Walking fast can make you look hurried, overeager and even aggressive. Take long, slow, even strides and don't force a jaunty gait. Most people in a hurry lean forward as they walk. The message is obvious. You're busy man. But some people do a Groucho Marx parody whether they're in a hurry or not. Usually it signifies latent nervous energy or that you are chronically running late. Either way, you can look out of control. A little lean is okay – just make sure a fast short-stepped walk does not accompany it. The combination will make you look harried and headed for a mental breakdown. Try to take longer strides. It'll make you look a little more laid-back and if you really take long strides, you will get you there just as quickly as with short, fast ones.

The Waddler and the Pigeon-toed

If your gait swings so that your feet are pointed outward or inward, you may end up with the duck or the pigeon-toed walking styles. But looking funny is the least of your problems. The open duck-walk stance has an inherent awkwardness and instability to it, as most of our weight rests on the back of the feet. While pigeon-toed may look okay on a model simpering down a ramp, on a man, the gait makes him look uncertain, like a turtle that retreats into its shell at the first sign of trouble. Stretching your hip and upper-leg muscles may loosen you up enough to get your feet pointed in the right direction.

Try this manoeuvre to give your outer hip muscles a good stretch

Lie on your back with both legs extended. Loop a towel or rope around your left foot. Lock your left knee and turn your leg slightly inward, so your heel points away from your body. Using your left leg's hip muscles, extend that leg out from your side, leading with your heel. Keep your leg straight. Use your hand to keep slight tension on the rope. Don't yank it – the rope is there only to help you to complete the stretch, not to force you into a painful position. Hold the stretch for two seconds, then relax and repeat for a total of 10 repetitions. Switch sides. Keep your chin up, and look to the horizon. Make an effort to keep your head level and your eyes straight ahead. Don't be afraid to swivel your head and survey your surroundings. You'll convey that you're comfortable alert, confident in your environment even if you're not.

Remember to use good posture during every day activities, such as working at your desk. Different types of people may adopt different styles. We need to be prudent to adopt a positive walking style. Practise for a great stride rather than the loser's. Walking with immense confidence can help to achieve good results. In fact, walking determines the personality of a person. A positive mind enables vibrant walking.


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About G Ravishankar

G Ravishankar was associated with a company manufacturing herbal medicines for 11 years, where he gained experience on the invaluable contents of herbal medicines. He and his family members use herbal medicines in their day-to-day life with positive response. Ravishankar may be contacted via Mob: 0091 22 93242 99938;

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