Safety Tips for Walking
As you walk, place your foot down lightly. Do not slap or slam it down. Make sure that your foot comes in contact with the ground in a heel-then-toe progression. It may seem that when taking large steps you are covering more distance, however when landing the energy of the step is absorbed by the ground. Then it takes more energy to get you off on the next step making it more difficult to keep the body moving forward. Small to medium steps are preferable to maintaining your momentum.
Another “trick” to encourage the continuation of the forward motion, is leaning slightly forward. Utilizing this body position will “pull” your body mass forward while using the least amount of energy to do so. It also increases your walking cadence. Cadence is a rhythm or pace that measures the number of walking steps taken per minute. Your upper body also plays a significant role in effective walking. As your foot comes in contact with the ground, deliberately tighten the muscles in your buttock on the same side as the foot. As you rock forward onto your toes, intentionally push off with your toes propelling your body forward at a faster rate. Maintain a certain amount of tension in your core by gently pulling your belly button back in towards your spine.
Walking down a gradient is perhaps one of the most dangerous situations that a walker will face. Many injuries occur due to the extra stress caused by coming down a slope. Make sure to take special care. When on a descent, the force absorbed by your joints and muscles is much greater than when you ascend a gradient. Poles are of particular use when descending. Be sure to use them if you have them. Not only will they absorb a percentage of the increased pressure from walking downhill, they will also help you to maintain your balance and avoid a fall and resulting injuries.