title:Power Walking Could Be Bad For You! author:Roy Palmer source_url:http://www.articlecity.com/articles/health/article_4675.shtml date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:12 category:health article:

Power walking is the new jogging. It is seen as a safer alternative to running with similar health benefits but at a lower intensity. In thirty minutes you can burn up to 250 calories and give you a great cardio-vascular workout. It sounds too good to be true! In fact, I think it is. Its supporters claim it is less likely to lead to injury than running but I would argue that the advice given to power walkers can lead to long-term problems.
Walking is a natural activity that the majority of us can manage from an early age until the end of our days. But what should be an easy, natural activity has been transformed into a ?proper exercise? by creating a technique that increases the amount of effort required. Let’s look at some of the advice.
1. Keep your head up, back straight and body aligned. – How would you follow this advice? I see people tightening their backs and fixing their posture. How do you know if your back is straight? If you knew how to align your body it would already be aligned!
2. Stride out, but don’t lengthen your stride so much that your knees lock, which can lead to injury. – Any attempt to stride out will land your foot in front of your body increasing the stress on your knees. Whether running or walking your feet should land under your body and your head.
3. While walking with hand weights or weighted gloves?.. – What does walking with weights added to your arms or legs do to your body dynamics? How does it change your normal walking or other activities? You will build muscles to be used in a way that is not your natural movement. You can even buy weighted vests!
4. Pump your arms. – This action is generally done with the shoulders raised adding tension to the neck.
Do you need to do any of these actions to walk? Are they going to aid free, natural movement? On the contrary, they are most likely to interfere with breathing, movement of the joints and the action of reflexes that would coordinate the activity for you. I admire the commitment of the many people I see power walking whilst I?m out running but I firmly belief they would be far better either running or just going for a ?natural? enjoyable walk and still keep fit anyway.
I see people who use power walking with tight back and stiff joints through getting into the habit of applying too much effort in all their activities. Excessive muscle tension can lead to a reduced awareness of your own body resulting in biomechanical difficulties. If you walk tall (without trying to tighten your back) and let your and swing from your shoulder joints and your legs from your hips it makes for an enjoyable activity.
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