Monday, July 30, 2012

"Chi" Walking?

Got a phone call from a friend last week asking me about minimalist running. This is what she said: 
“I want to run. I feel great when I run. But every time I try to start back up with running, after a few weeks, my calves are killing me. I take a break that ends up lasting a month or longer, then I try again with the same results. What am I doing wrong?”
The RX: ditch the crappy shoes.  Then walk.  How should you walk?
So when I decided to transition to a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle, I knew I had to take it slow… very slow. I spent the first six weeks just learning how to walk. What I’m showing you below is the program I followed.
Since my foot was in direct contact with the pavement, when I walked with a poor gait pattern, I felt it immediately at my foot. This allowed me to make immediate adjustments in my gait so that I walked without pain. Once you place a cushion beneath your foot, you are disconnected from this very important line of communication with your body.  It allows you to continue to walk with dysfunction instead of feeling pain immediately at your foot.  The pain allows you to make immediate adjustments. No immediate pain, no immediate adjustments.  Rather, you feel that pain weeks, months or even years later in your knee, hip, back, shoulder or neck.  By this point you are completely disconnected from the original source of the problem.  As you learn to walk again remember, every step is an opportunity to make immediate adjustments in your gait.  
The author continues with a lot of advice, which will likely work for many folks.
I like his description of walking:
                A quiet foot fall. Your foot should touch the ground like a feather. No slapping.
                Slight forward body lean.
                Your forefoot or mid foot should strike the ground first, heel comes down after that. Do make sure your heel touches the ground, otherwise your calves will get very angry at you.
                Short stride with your feet landing directly beneath your hips, not in front of your body.
                Comfortable arm swing with shoulders relaxed downward. Don’t hold your arms or shoulders rigid. Your right arm should move in tandem with your left leg and vice versa.
                Follow the corrective exercises in the following articles to develop mobility and stability of the feet, hips and shoulders.

I know there are folks who would like to make the transition to pain free walking, and perhaps then running - if you try this approach, let me know how it works!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very close to Chi Walking, as your post is titled.