When you start out active walking, you pay careful attention to how you roll your foot, to how you swing your arms and breathe in rhythm... But have you paid attention to the position of your back? Active walking is a great way to tone up your back muscles and say goodbye to back pain for good… Here's why… and how!
Walk well for a toned back
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. In just a few months, these bouts had completely disappeared."
Active walking is also a much gentler sport than many, including 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 significant difference for your back…
But the benefits of walking also depend on your posture and the way in which you execute your movements!
Relax your shoulders before walking
To perform the correct movements in active walking, you must be totally relaxed and do them as naturally as possible.
Relax to eliminate residual tension and let your shoulders fall until they are mobile 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, very soon you will observe 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, which 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.
Beyond improved walking comfort, keeping your hips steady is also a guarantee of working the muscles of the buttocks and abdomen properly.
"In regard to this", notes Emmanuel Lasalle, "do not clench the buttocks while walking, at the risk of contracting the lower back and tensing your spine".
Increase your active walking speed
To walk faster, curb your natural tendency to lean your body forwards! This movement only serves to tire the muscles of the back and strain the neck, leading to pain…
Fix a point on the ground, twenty or so 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. Compensate for this temporary discomfort by doing shoulder, back and neck stretches during your session.
Now you have the theory, put it into practice on your favourite active walking routes!