Walking is great exercise, but sometimes it can hurt. When we walk for miles and are unaware of our posture or body mechanics, that can lead to body dysfunction and discomfort. The hips, hip flexors, neck, lower back, feet and legs are common areas where we feel pain when we walk. One solution? Yoga! Yoga builds strength and mobility, as well as corrects your posture and body mechanics, so that when you walk, you move with more ease and less pain. Let’s dive a little deeper:
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, gives us a solid baseline from which to start our walk. Mountain pose isn’t just standing there, Mountain builds strength in our legs and core, while helping us find vertical. When you stand in Mountain pose, you are stacking your joints in a vertical alignment. Ideally, you are not slouching or rounding your upper back, as we often do when sitting at a computer or looking at our phone. When you stand in Mountain, you are strengthening the muscles of the neck and upper back so they can hold you upright without strain. You are also slightly stretching the chest muscles and anterior neck so that you don’t get pulled forward into poor posture.
Stacking your hips over your ankles activates the quads, which support the knees, and activates your lower abdominals which support your lower back. When you press your feet into the floor, you engage your glutes and pelvic floor (this may take some practice), both of which support you while you walk.
From Standing to Walking
Once we’ve established our vertical posture, it’s time to move. Most of us learned to walk when we were babies, but chances are, we are not walking with proper mechanics, and this leads to pain.
When you walk, you should feel Mountain pose in your body. You are maintaining that vertical alignment as you move. When you don’t, things start to hurt. If you start to slouch, you will feel neck and upper back pain. When you are not using your glutes, you will over work your hips flexors and they will hurt. If your hips are leading or following you as you walk, that will lead to other discomfort and pain. You’ll typically get tight hamstrings and a sore lower back.
Walking is important exercise, especially as we age, but HOW you walk is just as important as the walking itself.
Other Ways that Yoga Supports Walking
Yoga helps both before and after walking. It undoes all of our “bad habits” when it comes to posture and infuses us with better ones. By strengthening what is weak and stretching what is tight, we are better prepared to move with more ease and less effort.
Practicing yoga before walking (either immediately before or in the bigger sense of before), prepares your body for movement. It warms up and loosens your muscles, while strengthening and encouraging good posture. It also supports your balance, so that you have better balance in your times of need, like when walking on uneven surfaces. If you are used to adjusting to small and large shifts of weight when you practice yoga, it will be easier for you to adjust to those shifts when you are walking in the woods or on cracked pavement.
After walking, there are many yoga poses that stretch out the muscles that we use while walking. If you lost your ideal body mechanics while you were walking, even a 10-15 minute yoga practice can help you feel looser and more at ease. Check out my two Post Walk/Run Stretch sequences in the links below!
Post Walk/Run Stretch Sequence (9 minutes)
Post Walk/Run Stretch #2 (13 minutes)
Join me live in my Facebook Group during my free Core and Lower Back Master Class Weekend! I’ll be diving deeper into body mechanics in my class Mechanics of Walking on Friday, May 5th at 10am EDT. Saturday, May 6th at 9am EDT will be Fun with Foam Rolling, followed by Core Activation in Yoga at 9:45am EDT. Sundayth, May 7 I’ll round out the weekend with Stretching Safely As We Age at 9am EDT. Catch all classes live to enter a raffle to win prizes, or catch the replays anytime through the end of May! Click here to sign up and join my Facebook group for all the fun!
Click here to stay up to date with all of the fun at Purple Room Yoga! My online yoga studio caters to active adults over 50 who want to stay active and engaged in life! Purple Room Yoga, led by me, Janine Agoglia, offers weekly live online and on demand yoga classes for all levels and experience, as well as meditation, stretching, and mindful core. I have classes of multiple lengths to fit easily into your busy schedule. Click here to see my full schedule of classes, and here to see my extensive on demand library! I also offer retreats, workshop, and online courses!
My next course starts on May 22, Strength and Mobility for Your Active Life: Core and Lower Back! For more information or to sign up, click here!