As bipedal creatures we are plantigrade animals. Our entire foot is down on the ground as opposed to a four legged animal whose heel is up in the air behind the forefoot. When we walk as designed the heel strikes gently down on the outside of the heel and then the bones of the foot roll immediately forward ending up on the inside where all of the weight of the body is centered over the mound of the big toe for push off to the next step.
Well, that’s the design and here’s the reality. In most of our clients we see that the heel strikes down hard before taking an uninspired journey to the outside of the foot never getting near that all important big toe.
The next time you are out pay attention to the way you walk and use the heel strike as an important way to feel the way you walk. Listen for the sound it makes when you move forward. Is it light and soft or a hard ka-thunk? The aim is to be light on our feet putting as little pressure on our joints as possible.
We would like to lead with the upper body when walking instead of leading with the feet. As the heel strikes down the body should be on top of it already moving forward to the next step. Instead the way of most walking is the foot leads the way, the heel strikes down in front of the pelvis and you have to wait on the heel for the rest of the body to catch up.
This way of walking spends as much time on the heel as possible and our way of walking spends as little time on the heel as possible. The heel strike should be soft and fluid and the body should fall lightly forward through the next step.