Active walking is a gentle activity which tones up the whole body… including the back! Many walkers will notice that this activity relieves their back pain.
This is the case for Emmanuel Lassalle, cross-country walker, who cured his back pain by walking: "I started active walking following a trauma, at a time when I was suffering from lumbago around 4 times per year. These traumas disappeared in a few months."
Fitness walking is also much gentler than sports that involve running. With active walking, the impact that your body undergoes is equivalent to 1.5 times your weight compared with 3 times your weight with running! A notable difference for your back…
But the benefits of walking depend on your posture and the way you carry out the specific movements!
LOOSEN UP YOUR SHOULDERS BEFORE YOU WALK
To perform the correct movements in fitness walking, you must be totally relaxed and do them as naturally as possible.
Let yourself relax to get rid of any excess tension and drop your shoulders so they are loose and low.
KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT
Try not to slouch! You should have a very straight back, your spine can thus pivot correctly during your exercise. To do this, align your neck and your head with your body.
"Ensure also that you do not unnaturally arch your back by sticking your bottom out!" adds Emmanuel Lassalle.
LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD
To perfect this verticality, your chin should remain parallel to the ground. Look far ahead of you, and very soon you will find that this position helps keep your back straight and makes breathing easier!
KEEP YOUR HIPS STEADY
Your starting posture is now correct. Now all you need to do is to keep it during your exercise! This is where your hips come in; they should move from front to back.
When you move the right leg forward, prolong this movement to your hip. This reduces the impact of the foot on the ground and protects your back.
As well as making your walking more comfortable, keeping your hips steady also guarantees an effective glute and abdominal workout.
"In regard to this," notes Emmanuel Lassalle, "do not clench your buttocks while walking, as this will contract the lower back and stiffen your spine."
INCREASE YOUR FITNESS WALKING SPEED
To walk faster, curb your natural tendency to lean your body forwards! All you will do is tire out the muscles in your back and at the back of your neck more quickly…
Instead, keep your eyes on a spot on the ground around twenty metres in front of you.
Finally, do not worry if, to begin with, you feel awkward walking in this way: your muscles, which have been used to years of poor posture, will gradually become strengthened. You can ease this temporary discomfort by doing some shoulder, back and neck stretches in the middle of your session.
Now you have the theory, it's time to try it out on your favourite fitness walking routes!