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how to walk properly


The 4 Steps For Better Walking Posture

If you’ve been wondering about whether you’re walking properly, if you’ve been getting pain while you’re walking, and if you want to improve your walking, maybe even your running, then this is a video for you.

I’m Marian Barnick,  a Registered Kinesiologist and Movement Coach. I help you decrease pain and improve biomechanics so you perform better and feel better.


The Walking Properly Video


What we’re going to review in the video is the four steps you need for proper walking.

But there is a fifth. And I want to go through that with you at the end, because it is really important if you’re looking to level up your walking and really make sure that you’re decreasing your risk of injury and increasing your time, your speed and your performance. So we’ll go through that at the end.


Why You Need to Walk Properly


Let’s start with why walking is so important. Now walking is really important and it’s something that we take for granted sometimes, but it’s something we really need to look at because it is our independence. It’s our way of moving way for activity. We want to make sure that you are walking properly.

We want to decrease your risk of injuries. We want to make sure too, that you have longevity, with your activities with your daily life and with your walking.


Is There a Right Way to Walk?


Now you might ask, is there  really a proper way of walking and I’m going to tell you yes, there absolutely is.

And we take it for granted. We go out walking and we have no issues and don’t even think about it, but that’s until we either can’t or we’re getting pain with walking.

It’s really important that we go through these points.

You may have heard the word gait or gait analysis. I know that’s something that I do quite a bit is taking a look at video of people walking or running and analyze their gait. That’s their signature, how they’re moving, and this can be really amazing, or it could have some things that we may want to tweak a little bit.


Gait & Posture Review


So, as I said, we’re going to go through the Four Steps for easy peasy walking, and this is walking the proper way. So let’s move forward with those four steps.


Step #1 for Proper Walking

Heel Strike


Your first step in the four steps to proper walking is your heel strike. So when we look at the picture we can see that the foot is elevated.

Only the heel is on the ground.  And I want you to look at the fact that that foot gets straight up and down.

The foot is not on an angle. It’s not going out or the other way.  We’ve got that foot straight up and down, easy peasy. 

That’s your heel strike. That’s your first step in proper walking.


Step #2 for Proper Walking

Stance Phase


Step number two for walking is your stance phase.

When we look at the stance phase, we’re looking at the foot that is on the ground. So when we look at the picture, we’re looking at this foot, it’s flat on the ground.

The foot positioning is nice and even and the foot is pointing towards the direction that you want to walk.

And the leg is nice and stable coming down from the hip in a nice straight line.

Yes, we’re talking body alignment. We need those proper biomechanics to decrease the risk of injury. And of course, to keep your pain-free. Let’s move on to step number three.


Step #3 for Proper Walking

Swing Through Phase


Your third step with proper walking is your swing through phase. So we’re talking about the opposite foot to the one in stance phase.  and as you see in the video, this foot will swing through, hence the name swing, to the front of the body, but without touching the ground.

Let’s go on to step number four.


Step #4 for Proper Walking

Toe Off Phase


Step number four is your toe off.  This is the last part of your foot to leave the ground when you’re walking.

So again, when we’re looking at this foot, we’re looking at the position of the foot up and down perpendicular to the ground.  The foot is nice and straight with no angulation.  It’s not pointing to one side or the other.

And we see that all of the foot is off the ground except the toe. 

This phase of gait creates  your acceleration, your locomotion. This is how you push off from the ground. This is truly important to improve efficiency in walking and have better power with each step.


BONUS FOR Proper Walking


All right, the Bonus,  that fifth step that is going to make for awesome walking, proper walking, and to accelerate you towards your goals.


Shoulder Mobility for Better Walking


It’s a use of your arms when you’re walking. Yes. I know we’re talking about the ankles and the knees and the hips, and that may be where you have the pain, but your arms are going to be a key component and really leveling up your game for walking and for running.

When we look at how we want those arms to move when we’re walking, it’s a reciprocal pattern that we’re going to look at.

So when we look at the picture in the video, when we look at heel strike, we’ve got that left leg in front.

When that left leg is in front, I want that right arm swinging forward with that left leg.

And the opposite is true.

When you’ve got that left leg behind you we want that right arm behind you. So as you’re walking reciprocally and going through the four steps of proper walking, those arms are along for the ride, guiding you and helping you with that reciprocal pattern.

So when we’re looking at this girl walking on the treadmill, we can see the arms swing.

We can see the normal arm swing with the arm coming forward. The arm coming back, we’re looking at shoulder range of motion here with flexion and extension. I also want you to look at the body alignment.

I want you to look at how aligned she is as she’s walking. This is really important so your arms aren’t pulling you around that axis.


Harvard Study On Walking and Arm Swing


Your arms are so important that even Harvard is studying how the arms affect our walking. When you’re walking sometimes there’s some twisting of the body around that axis, the axis that comes straight through our body.

We’re trying to move forward, but we may rotate. Well, what Harvard has found is that if you use your arms properly when you walk, it’s going to help diminish those rotations and keep you on a proper path, decreasing those risk of injuries and improving your walking stride.


Walking Mobility and Abnormal Gait


So what happens when you have an abnormal arm swing, it can really increase your risk of injury. As we see here, we’ve got one arm  down the side of the body, no problems there, but where’s the other arm?

If we’re moving straight ahead, we should be able to see both arms one on each side. But as you can see here, this arm is crossing the front of the body.

That’s going to definitely cause some issues.  So, when we’re looking at that arm swing, that’s coming in front of the body, we can also see other areas in the body that are being affected or have effected the arm.

Again, it doesn’t matter, which came first. We’re looking at the problems and that’s what we want to correct.

We can see that the hips are not in alignment and with our toe off that’s fourth step in our proper walking is not being done correctly.  That foot on an angle. We’ve got some rotation here and these will cause problems with how fast you can walk and also injuries that can occur in parts of your body.

So, you know the four steps. You know the fifth secret. What are we going to do about this? Well, there’s a lot of different patterns you can use to up level, your walking or your running,  or your sport.

What I want to look at for you is starting with the Foundations First Framework. This is where you start. We’ve got to start by evaluating where there may be an issue and that’s with your range of motion.

Are your joints moving properly to get you into the proper gait pattern?  Do you have mobility about the ankles, the hips and the knees that will allow you to walk properly?


Shoulder Mobility to Improve Walking


Do you have mobility about the shoulders? That’s the second point. Can your shoulders move forward and back properly with flexion and extension to allow you proper gait patterning?

So, as we see here with one of my patients, we’ve got very light weights in her hands just to help with that neural input of that flexion and extension to allow her to move forward with the proper gait pattern once we had the mobility and the lower limbs as well as the upper limbs.

And this is one of the ways you can look at in improving your walking.

So we want to look at the mobility, upper body, lower body, and then we want to look at guiding the body in proper motor control as it’s moving in these functional patterns.

Now, do you have any question? Do you have any concerns? Have you looked at you’re walking and you’re wondering if you are meeting the four steps with the proper walking or do you maybe have some issues with the shoulders?

They may be pulling you across the body as you’re swinging your arms, not only decreasing your walking speed, but also causing some issues with hip, knee, and ankle pain  or maybe some tightness through the chest as well. I want you to comment below. I want you to let me know what those issues are.

And of course, I would love to see those videos.

If you have videos of your walking patterns and you would like me to do a gait analysis by all means, send me a copy of the video. I would love to be able to use that, to help you and to help others. And please subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking the link below and hitting the subscribe button.

Marian’s YouTube Channel

And let me know if this is helpful and what else you would love me to chat about for Better Body Biomechanics.

Foundations First Framework


to decrease tightness and improve joint mobility so muscles work through their full range with ease and flow


to create optimal functional movement, the body needs to develop motor control and proper firing patterns so the muscles work as a team


not until you have mobility and stability then work the RIGHT muscles to create the BEST results for your specific goals

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Better Body Biomechanics is what's needed to reach the next level.
Marian Barnick
Body Movement Expert