COREconnection: Running/Walking Tall
Fitness Focus: Whether you run or walk for exercise, proper form is key to receiving the full benefits while keeping the body supported and protected from injury. Because the difference between running and walking is a matter of pace more than anything else, proper form for both of these exercise methods is the same. (It is true that technically running, no matter what pace, requires that both feet leave the ground at some point, for our purposes, we will focus on the similarities between running/walking.) Here are some tips for maintaining proper form during running/walking for exercise OR moving-at any pace- throughout your daily activities.
- Head/Eyes Forward- Keeping your gaze in front of you with your chin slightly nodded toward the chest, look ahead, choose a point in the distance on which to focus. This serves the purpose of aligning your back and neck, lengthening the spine.
- Arms/Shoulders- Arms should be “low and loose”, relaxing the shoulders back and down, elbows at a 90 degree angle. Avoid making a fist with the hand- a good trick is to lightly touch the thumb and middle finger. The arms should swing back and forth not in front of you- that wastes energy!
- Torso- Now that the head and shoulders are in the right position, the torso should be longer which allows more breath to enter the lungs increasing oxygen to the blood and muscles. Sometimes during a long walk or run- or even in the course of our day- we find that we begin to slouch. As this happens and the shoulders come forward, our body quickly gets out of alignment, we feel strain in the neck and back, perhaps we start to feel winded. When this happens, take a deep breath, pulling the belly button in on the inhale and then maintain the abdominal engagement as you exhale- lengthening through the crown of the head and squeezing those shoulder blades back into position. Feel the invigorating breath flow through the body and keep moving forward!
- Hips- Keeping the hips level- pointing straight ahead- will alleviate pressure on the lower back and knees.
- Legs/ankles/feet- Although the leg placement changes depending on whether you run or walk, it is important to remember that we want to use the legs, ankles and feet, from heel to toe, to propel us forward. You want to imagine that you are running/walking along a straight line- foot comes directly in front of you, sure and strong!
*Increased flexibility in the hip flexors helps with moving the legs properly, strong core muscles makes it easier to hold your body in proper alignment, learning to control the breath helps stabilize the body and create rhythm, and practicing proper alignment helps you strengthen the muscles vital for good posture. Working on these areas of flexibility, core strength, breath control, and posture, say, in an exercises class would work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your running/walking/daily movements. If you are looking for an exercise class that incorporates all of these elements, I would like to suggest the FREE COREpilates class offered by COREministries on Thursday evenings at Southside United Methodist Church. See the Events Tab for details!
In many ways, physical running/walking is similar to our walk of faith. No matter what our pace, we are pressing on toward the goal; we are reaching toward the prize ahead. Because this race has been marked out before us, we have guidelines, a proper form, which benefits us on this course. We have a heavenly Trainer who has plans for us and tells us of, not only the prize in store, but the means at which to achieve it. In God’s Word we see that we can walk/run this race, keeping our gaze ahead toward the goal which has already been won in Christ Jesus. We see that maintaining a strong CORE in Christ, placing our feet firmly on the path to righteousness through engaging this strong CORE, being upright and in alignment by breathing in the Breath of the Holy Spirit, we can finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given us!
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body. …
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4)
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)