How to Have a Youthful Walk:The First Secret

John Paul Ouvrier

John Paul Ouvrier

One of the healthiest exercises we can do is to walk regularly, and yet here’s the problem: so many older people walk like they’re much older than they are.  And why do other older people, clearly the same age, walk like they’re younger people?  In this article, and the next two articles, I am going to share three big secrets that older people who walk like younger people do every time they walk. Now each of you is different, and you should seek your doctors or physical therapist’s advice before you follow my advice, however these ideas are based on such common mistakes that most older walkers make- I think you’ll be excited. 

So let’s discuss this:  Is there some miracle that ‘good’ walkers understand that ‘old’ walkers do not?  Other than health and medical issues, individual differences, and chronological age, the most common reason one person walks differently than another is how well a person understands and is able to use their body. I am aware that each of us moves differently, however the secrets I will define in these articles are common to all of us. 

When I work with individuals one on one, I am amazed how many people drag their feet.  They do this because they do not know Secret #1: 

Secret 1:  Pick up your legs from the knees first, the toes second! 

In other words, walk like you’re marching.  I say ‘walk like you’re marching’ not to have you actually march with your knees going up high in the air, I say this so that you will understand that the hips have to pick the knees up first to put the leg out to walk effectively, and thus get your leg to raise up to clear the ground. Most people do the opposite. 

Most people tend to drag their legs. Instead of picking up the knees to pull the foot away from the ground, they pick or pull up their toes, which pull up the feet to clear the ground, and then walk forward. This causes problems immediately: 

  • Because the leg isn’t actually being picked up, these people routinely catch their toes on the ground or objects, effectively tripping themselves. While this doesn’t always result in a fall, ultimately it will. This effect is compounded because many of us grew up with leather bottoms on our shoes, but now, shoe bottoms are made of sticky rubber-like materials. Pick up your legs, not just your feet. Gone are the days of getting away with sliding on a rug; you will stick like Velcro! 
  • Because the leg isn’t actually being picked up, this eventually gives a person leg cramps because the muscles in the shin area get over-worked and ache.  These smaller shin muscles, the ones that pull your toes toward you, or up and back, are not designed to do all the work of the legs! Pick up your legs, not just your feet.
  • And the worst one of all:  Since the knees are not being picked up, the knees tend to stay in more locked position and a person’s steps tend to become smaller. Do the math; if you’re taking steps that are six inches smaller with each step, you’re losing hundreds of feet in distance during a walk and wasting precious energy. This also can hinder good balance. Pick up your knees, not just your feet. 

So please, pick up your knees, just a little when you walk- a slight march. This may feel very awkward at first, yet once it becomes habit, you will be picking up your knees and feet together and won’t even think about it. I assure you, your feeling awkward looks normal and young. Old walkers drag their legs, young ones pick up their legs-and this isn’t about chronological age! You can become a youthful walker at any age! And once those complements start coming in, tell everyone where you learned your secrets: Put Old on Hold Journal and The Wizard of Youth! Blessings.

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 John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth  is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice.  The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice.  John’s websites are: http://wizardofyouth.com. & http://fitness4charity.org.

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