TalkBack, spring | 2017 (BackCare)

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Six steps that can put you on the right path to walking happiness Walking is acknowledged as one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. However, for many people walking may aggravate aches and pains, or they simply cannot understand why it is supposed to be so easy and enjoyable. Korina Biggs discusses how the Alexander Technique can help your walking. AS WITH all forms of movement, it is not the moving per se that automatically brings benefits but the way in which we move and the attention that we are paying to ourselves in the process. You may make some discoveries about your habits when walking by considering the following (think of these as gentle explorations rather than as actions that you have to try hard and do):

suggesting to your head that it lightens up and can easily and freely balance on top of the spine. If you need to look down then let your eyes drop first and then allow a gentle nod from this area without shortening your neck column. When going up hills, try thinking of the crown of your head leading the way.

Heading up

We hold our arms and shoulders in so many habitual ways for functional as well as emotional and psychological reasons. Walking is a wonderful time to release much of that tension. Try allowing your shoulders to float out to each side so as to widen both the front and the back of you. You could allow your arms to swing naturally as a result of the rotational movement that occurs through your body. Your hands and fingers could be relaxed without them being restricted by being in pockets or having to hold anything. If you

Pictures: Mariona Cabassa

Many people look down when they are walking, maybe because they are worried about tripping, are wrapped up in their thoughts, or texting. Usually, the looking down brings the neck down with it – with subsequent strain on the muscles and a compression of the spine. Or they may be looking out, but pushing their chins forward and squashing the back of their necks. Try paying attention to the top joint of your spine which is between your ears and allowing that area to be a little freer. Try


The weight of the world on your shoulders

need to carry a bag, try a rucksack over both shoulders that is close fitting or a bag with the strap going across you so that the weight is distributed.

Walking on air Rather than thinking of walking as controlled falling (which can lead to a heavy tread), think of it as forward propulsion. Let your hip joint be free, and allow the knee to release forward so the leg swings like a pendulum while propelled by the other leg. Simply thinking of lightening up and extending your awareness to the space all around can help you expand and breathe more freely.

A spring in your step In this relaxed swing forward of the leg, explore keeping your feet more underneath you. If we stride out, we often stiffen in the foot and ankle in anticipation and that can interfere with the extraordinary architecture that enables springy arch