One of the best forms of exercise is walking, but for some, this can be a difficult task, particularly as we age or recover from injury. Regaining balance is vital to restoring maximum functional capacity, but moving, not holding your arms is what will help get you there.
Don’t believe me? Walk around with your arms glued to your sides. Awkward isn’t it?
With an injury or lack of movement in your upper extremities it can sometimes be difficult to learn proper movement patterns on land.
To regain the stride you had start by walking and running in the pool to properly re-educate movement patterns.
Float at clavicle level with proper buoyancy tool and your feet not touching the bottom to unload your body weight up to 90 percent. The water will provide assistance or resistance when needed to challenge you in every direction.
Begin by staying upright and vertical with your pelvis under your shoulders in the deep end of the pool or body of water. Stay relaxed and breathe normally. Notice how your breathing is more strenuous than on land because of the compression of the water.
Mimic a walking stride by trying to walk forward using your arms and legs. When your right arm reaches forward so should your left leg.
Switch to opposing sides. Right leg forward with left arm forward. Keep repeating. With all the resistance around you, if you do not swing your arms evenly or efficiently you will break posture and not stay erect with your pelvis under your shoulders.
Do not sacrifice technique for speed, this is a frequent mistake.
Additional flotation tools can be held in the hands or attached to the ankles or feet if needed.
Focus on transferring your weight from heel to toe while walking forward and swinging your
arms while in the shallow end of the pool. Move your arms forward and backward at an even distance from the midline of your body. Challenge yourself by moving your arms and legs faster. Apply the same guidelines
when you start walking on land.
Use the pool to build strength and further improve your gait or even use it as recovery modality after a long run after building up to it from your walks.
Either way, walking on land or in the water is a simple and effective means of exercise but keep your arms swinging.
Even though you do not walk on them, the arms are the “guide to your stride”.
Depending on your muscular imbalance or limitation, you might find yourself fighting against the water. It’s is a lost cause. The water magnifies any discrepancy. The more you fight the more you will have to fight and then lose control. Before moving fast gracefully you must stay relaxed and start slowly.