It’s all in the hips. If you can rock and roll your hips like Elvis, you’re on the way to gliding while you walk. Fast walking requires a technique in which your hips are used like shock absorbers for your lower back, legs and feet. If you’re competing in a fast-walking race, you’re performing a series of low impact steps, according to Olympic walker and judge Ron Laird’s article, “How to Race Walk,” on the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States’ website. (Reference 2) When recovering from joint injuries or muscle strain, runners use fast walking workouts to maintain cardiovascular fitness. To master the fundamentals of fast walking, learn the hip roll first and then add knee straightening and 90-degree arm pumping.
Pick a line on the track. Keep your feet pointing forward as you walk the line during the entire exercise. Avoid turning your feet out or moving from side to side.
Perform 10 paces. Straighten your leading leg as soon as it touches the ground. Focus on pulling the ground behind you with your right front foot immediately after it lands. Walk another 10 paces but concentrate on performing the same action with your left foot as the lead.
Perform 10 paces in which you focus on straightening your right leg while pulling the ground with your right foot. Repeat this exercise with your left leg and foot.
Perform 10 paces in which you use your rear right leg to push you forward but not upward. Avoid kicking your rear heel upward. Bend your right leg just enough to skim it over the ground and bring it forward. Lift the toes toward your shin so a right angle forms between the top of your foot and shin. Repeat with your left leg.
Roll your left hip forward and down when your body weight is over your right leg. Roll your right hip forward and down when your weight shifts over to your left leg.
Flex your arms at 90-degree angles. Pump them forward and back like pistons. Keep extraneous arm movements across your chest to a minimum.
Keep your head up and torso erect.
- Begin by practicing with short steps, which will help you to focus on hip motion and straightening your knees.
- Because of extra strain to your shins, you may feel soreness after a workout. Endure the discomfort, which will decrease as you get used to walking in this way. Avoid leaning forward to lengthen your stride. An extreme forward lean will put too much stress on your lead leg’s knee joint and cause you to fatigue quickly. Also avoid twisting your body to one side when you walk, which can hinder your posture, momentum and balance.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.