Of those names, race walking is the only form of walking that has a clear-cut definition because it is governed by a specific set of rules. The other terms are often used simply to help validate walking as a real form of exercise in the minds of the participants, and the different names do not usually refer to a technique different than the one we describe here.
For the purposes of this Walk Training series, we will not distinguish one from the other; we will simply call it "walking."
By closely following the technique and form described here, you can significantly improve your performance. You will safely cover more ground in less time, with less effort, and with greater consistency.
This training can help enhance the benefits you receive from walking, including:
With regards to your general fitness and overall health, there are some more great advantages:
Practicing and becoming comfortable with your form should be your first objective. As you practice your technique, break each component down to an individual motion and focus on one at a time. Then put it all together.
It is up to you to select the portions of the walking stride that feel most comfortable and practice putting each piece into place to build the muscle memory that will help you achieve the consistency you will need.
Each of us are individuals, and not all of us can or will want to perfect this technique in its entirety. It will be most productive if you select the pieces that you are most comfortable with. Go at your own pace.
Stand tall, walk tall
The foundation of a good basic stride is posture. The spine should be elongated by standing straight--not in a rigid military position, merely straight, tall, and relaxed. You should be able to draw a straight line from your ear down to your shoulder, to your hip, knee and ankle
A common problem to look for here is an unnatural arch in the lower back. Commonly known as a "sway back," this incorrect posture can create great discomfort, especially when walking long distances.
To eliminate this problem, practice tucking your buttocks under your body, putting the pelvis area in a more neutral position. To accomplish this, pull in your abdominal muscles, and at the same time squeeze your buns.