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walking form
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jacob thompson
(nihilist37) - F
walking form on 06/15/2005 04:21:01 MDT Print View

So I guess most people out there have their own technique for walking. And I guess most of us are still looking to improve this to make the miles more comfortable.

For a while now I've been running as well to try and increase my fitness and endurance for long milage days. I've always found that it just seems too taxing when doing lots of miles. So in an effort to try and find better styles to run I came across this website.

I did a lot of reading and read reviews of similar styles and eventually decided to buy the book and read into it I do realise at this point that I am talking about trail running and this is not the focus of this website. However, I emailed the author of the book and asked him if there was any way of converting this theory of running into a walk. He replied stating that soon there will be a release of a DVD showing the technique being transformed into walking called chiwalking.

I have done a little bit of t'ai chi in my time (being the hippy that I am) and I have no reason to doubt that it can't be put into a walking and running form. For those of you who don't feel like going to the site and reading away I will just write a brief summary of what the style entails.
The method that he describes is a way of positioning and holding the body so that the muscles in the legs can relax whilst the body tilts foward and lets gravity pull it along. This relieves the stress that heel striking and overly contracted and tense muscles cause.


In the email that I recieved from him he told me that he thought that it would be possible to incorporate the chi walking into a hiking walk. Once I have recieved the package and have practised it for a while I will report back on my findings. I feel confident that this method will be able to help make long days seem less stressful on the legs and help to prevent injuries that occur.

I am always interested in techniques to improve backcountry comfort. So if anyone else has any techniques they use whilst walking, bring it on.

Edited by nihilist37 on 06/15/2005 04:23:19 MDT.

Adam McFarren
(amcfarre) - F
ChiRunning on 06/15/2005 15:38:55 MDT Print View

Jacob,

I'd be real interested to hear how you do with ChiRunning. Some of it sounds similar to the race walking form (not over striding, landing your forward foot closer to your body, etc). But there are some obvious differences as well (midfoot vs heel strikes, leaning forward in ChiRunning). Let us know when the ChiWalking book is out.

I did a few searches on the Ultra list archives, and found a few mentions of ChiRunning, most positive, especially w/ runners with former injuries.

I'm most skeptical of the forward lean in this technique. It seems if you're really using gravity to help you move forward, that would only help until you hit the ground. Seriously, I would think that for gravity to help, you'd have to have your body "fall" forward, but then you'd have to lift your body up again before the next stride can take similar advantage. Seems like wasted up and down motion.

-adam (not really a hippy, but lives in the most beatnik place in Indiana)

Edited by amcfarre on 06/15/2005 15:39:45 MDT.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: walking form on 06/30/2005 15:05:28 MDT Print View

Sorry for a late reply, I've been on the AT for the past month. I hope you'll share some more about 'chi-hiking' when you've had some time to try it out.

Because I tend to do higher-mileage days, I also try to introduce variety into my strides to keep things fresh. One of my 'discoveries' last month was using a stride similar to the way racewalkers move--with lots of hip motion. I don't rely on it as my main walking motion, but it is nice to mix things up. I've used it with success on climbs, flats, and drops. I'll have to play with it more to see if there are actually any efficiency benefits for different types of terrain. I do know that it is often a welcome change, and does seem a bit less demanding on the calves.

Another method I use is taking downhills pretty quickly. I despise long, drawn-out descents, so I try to keep my momentum going as much as possible. On more level descents, I'll often go into an easy jog, just leaning and letting gravity pull me forward. I try to avoid a direct heel-strike. On steeper descents, the more extreme body motion comes into play--I try to use my arms/poles and everything below my ribcage to absorb the impact. Ankles limber, knees flexed, body low, hips swiveling. Looks goofy, but it works for me.

Also, walking backwards is kind of fun.
-Mark