Fitness

Perfect your form

Walk this way to go further, faster

Chatelaine

Good form and technique makes a good walk: It ups the number of calories you’ll burn, helps condition muscles and lowers the risk of injury. Sue Henderson, a Running Room trainer and avid walker, offers these five tips to perfect your form:

Straighten out
“The first thing you want to do is have an erect, not rigid, body,” says Henderson. She recommends imagining a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you up straight and tall. “Think about keeping your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees and your knees over your feet,” she advises. Looking into the distance, not at your feet, will also help.

Lower your shoulders
The most important thing to remember when walking is to “keep your shoulders and hips relaxed and loose,” says Henderson. “I see walkers with their shoulders bunched up to their ears and their hips flat and stiff. Having a loose lower back is key to a smooth stride.” To do it properly, think about relaxing your hips as you step forward.

Arm yourself
Let your arms move with your steps, and keep them bent at a 90-degree angle. “When swinging your arms, keep your shoulders and arms relaxed,” Henderson recommends. Don’t make a fist – let your fingers curl naturally.

Step quickly
Taking larger steps will actually slow you down, says Henderson. “If you reach too far forward, you’ll be applying the breaks: You won’t be able to get a good push off and your strides will not be smooth.” Instead, take smaller steps and concentrate on the motion of your foot. “Land on your heel and as you move your body forward roll right across your foot to the toes and then push off with those toes to the other leg.”

Try, try again
Don’t be surprised if it’s difficult to maintain your form at first. “Many people find that the arms are the hardest to get comfortable with,” says Henderson. Practice in front of a full-length mirror at home, to get used to what correct form feels like.