I was out for a hike today, and spent 12 miles trying to land each step with precision and control. Okay, not the whole 12 miles. Sometimes I was distracted by blue skies and gorgeous sunshine, logs to balance on, rocks to climb, and different ways to carry my backpack. (That’s my kind of multitasking; time outside, time to play, working arms and core as well as legs and cardio.)
Anyway. To my point. A lot of us don’t like to focus on the little things. We walk all the time, and we know how to do it, right? Maybe you’re better at it than I am, but I have learned things in the last few years that help me to walk farther with less pain, but I have to work at it. One of them is just thinking about “walking quietly” or “walking lightly”. I tend to land hard when my heel hits the ground and that’s usually a sign that I’m actually falling just a bit as I move forward rather than walking well. It’s really hard on the joints and promotes over use of the quads (the big muscles of the thigh in front) and the hip flexors that are all over short and over active from sitting too much. As soon as I paid attention to walking quietly, I could feel a lot more activation of my calves and glutes (basically the butt muscles, if you’re not familiar).
Sometimes I feel a little silly that I have to think about how to walk, but I love the fact that it doesn’t add any time into what I was already doing, and paying attention to moving with excellence always seems to pay in dividends. For one, I now have very little knee pain with hiking, and that always used to be a problem for me.