May is Suffolk’s Walking Festival – I love seeing all the different walks arranged but also reflect on all the amazing walks available to us here in Suffolk.
So why get fit for walking?
Well, the alignment issues you have in standing will be exacerbated while you are walking, so pressure on your pelvic floor and abdominal wall if you are pelvis tucking or rib thrusting. If you are unbalanced and have weak hips you will be falling from foot to foot at each step rather than being balanced and steady in your movements which means you give yourself a mini whiplash with each step causing neck and head and upper back problems.
If you are moving your leg forwards by lifting your knees and using them to pull you along rather than using your glutes to ‘push’ you forwards you will create extra wear and tear on your knees.
Not having flexible feet and ankles means you start to walk with a more flat- footed gait which will result in higher likelihood of falls – have a look at our elders who need walking aids – they have little mobility in the feet and ankles which is why they are so much more unsteady.
The exercises you learn on the mat are designed to benefit you in your whole life and for your whole life
As I say in my classes, the exercises I teach on the mat are designed to help you become stronger and more balanced in everyday life meaning you are less likely to develop injuries or have falls.
I thought I’d share some revelations I have had with connecting my ‘mat work’ with being in the wild so to speak. These aha moments have really enforced for me the importance and relevance of becoming aligned, balanced and strong.
I can easily leave my house and walk for 3 hours without seeing a road – wonderful!
The benefits of working on my alignment, strength and balance has been more noticeable as I have been putting them in practice and seen how strengthening my hips, working on hip flexors and mobilising my feet has helped me be able to walk for longer periods and not come home shattered and aching.
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road – or maybe they just had weak hips
The biggest change has been eliminating the ‘Balfour wandering gene’ – both my gran and my mum would wander back and forth in front of the rest of us on walks, like drunken people really. They both complained about each other too!
I was horrified to discover that I was doing this a few years ago – and not believing that stuff is hereditary (how can wandering all over the place be a hereditary gene?) I did some reading and some thinking and realised that my weak hips had a lot to do with it. Weak hips also were contributing to my lower back pain , my crooked feet and weak ankles.
Pelvic lists were my go to exercise and I spent a whole winter standing by the fire working on them. Last year I realised that I could walk in a straight line and the only time I started wandering was at the end of a long walk. Interesting hey?
How glass doors will help my balance
My next discovery was when I was walking towards some glass doors and noticed my right heel flicking out to the side as I walked. Fascinated I spent a few minutes walking back and forth
Flicking out my ankle like this was also impacting on my knee creating unnecessary pressure on an unstable structure.
This is the ankle I broke two years running. Nope, never did do the recommended exercises and have a very stiff ankle. So I’ve been working on this and seeing results quite quickly. Releasing tension has allowed me to start to strengthen this ankle which is going to have an impact on my balance – which despite being great on horseback is pretty poor on my own two feet.
Coming up…….free stuff!
Over the next couple of weeks I will share some videos of essential exercises to help with your walking, some tests to see where you need to strengthen and some exercises to do during walks if you are starting to feel tired or achey.
She runs Pregnancy Exercise classes and Restorative Post-natal Exercise Classes in Woodbridge and Ipswich Suffolk