When practising active walking, it is not only your legs which propel you forwards! Your arms are also close allies in your progress and help you to distribute the effort throughout your whole body. Find out how to pace your stride using your arms, to increase your walking speedand tone your body!
Use your arms to walk more quickly and improve your muscle tone
Working your arm movements heps to distribute the physical effort between your legs and your upper body.
Acting as metronomes, your arms give your active walking session pace and regulate your breathing.
Emmanuel Lassalle, a long-distance walker, practises his arm movement during each of his training sessions. Here is his advice:
"It's a good idea to concentrate on this movement which is as important as the movement of the feet. Walking with the arms works the oblique muscle groups and tones the body, as you will use more energy if your arms are moving during your session. If your goal is to firm up your arms by doing sport, this is the ideal way to do it."
By practising, you will soon become aware of this secondary bonus effect: the more you move your arms, the faster you will walk!
Using your arms as pendulums during active walking
Following from the movement of the feet, the movement of your arms should be as fluid as possible. By releasing tension, you will avoid pain in your shoulders, neck and back.
Your goal: to walk confidently but also in a relaxed way!
To achieve this, Emmanuel Lassalle advises walkers to "train yourself first to move your arms at rest, in front of a mirror, to get a hang of the movement to adopt. This is also a good way to warm up before going out to walk!"
1– To begin: your arms should be at a right angle
Arm at 90° (right angle) Your shoulders should be relaxed and positioned neither too high, nor too low. Your fists should be closed, but not tightly.
2 – Your arms should move from front to back
This should imitate a pendulum movement, front to back in a forwards direction, guided by your elbows.
During this movement, your arms should naturally glide past the centre of your body. The trajectory of your hand is well marked: your wrist should not move lower than your waist, nor should it go lower than your hips.
Above all, your hand should never go higher than your sternum, otherwise you may slow the rhythm of your session of active walking.
3 – Do not forget your shoulders!
When you have mastered the movement of the arms, remember also to use your shoulders to propel your stride forwards. The idea is to stretch as far as possible behind you.
Have you got the hang of it? Now you just have to coordinate the top with the bottom! Swing your arms in step with the opposing leg: when your left hand is in front, your left foot is behind.
Emmanuel Lassalle warns against a common error made by active walkers: "avoid trying to keep the hand too high or moving by contracting the arms muscles".
Now you know which movements to make with your arms for active walking: to set you off on the right foot!