Standing in Place
While Walking Fun Stuff
LOWER LEG CARRIAGE
When learning new techniques, it is best if someone can watch you when you walk. However, it is often the case that a knowledgeable person or training partner is not available. So, use yourself as a coach. Walk in front of the glass storefronts, where you can watch yourself. Walk far enough away so you can see your whole body. Look to see if your leg is straightening and where your foot is hitting the ground. If you stand too close, your reflection will appear to pass by too quickly and you will accomplish little.
Before we introduce new techniques, here is a quick review of what you have learned so far.
When walking, place your foot in front of your body, landing on the outer heel of your foot. Your foot should land on either side of an imaginary line, and your toe should be pointed at 45 degree angle from the ground. Land with your leg straight, and keep it straight until after the leg has passed behind you. When your leg is behind your body, push off with your big toe forcing your body forward.
While you now understand the basic motions of the lower legs, you can improve their efficiency. First, notice what your knee and foot are doing once your rear foot has lifted off the ground. The goal is to be as efficient as possible, therefore avoid any unnecessary upward and downwards movement. When your rear foot lifts off the ground, your foot should come forward, without it being much more than an inch or two off the ground.
Also, keep the knee as low to the ground as possible. High knee and foot carriage can make someone appear as if they are galloping forward. The figure below shows the proper knee and foot placement throughout the stride. Initially, the knee follows the leg. When the knee is in front of the leg, it is not significantly forward. In addition, as the foot swings forward, note it is never more than an inch off the ground.
The following picture shows the progression of a walker's stride who has high knee drive and foot carriage. In particular pay attention to the placement of the knee and foot in the third walker.
Sometimes, awkwardness is caused by the way you place your feet on the ground. If your shins are weak, you may land with a pointed toe, only to have your foot flatten quickly. If this happens to you, make sure you are doing the shin exercises and stretches regularly. When moving the upper leg forward, your lower leg should follow as if it were attached with a hinge. Your leg should swing forward, reaching the straight position simultaneously with your foot striking the ground.
Another consideration when walking, is how your foot makes contact with the ground. Many novice walkers are not as efficient as they might be. These walkers are broken into three different groups.
Diggers strike and dig their feet into the ground when they walk. This has the opposite effect of what you want to have happen. By impacting hard, you add to the breaking motion in your stride. You push against the ground and the ground pushes you back. This will slow you down and adds stress to your body.
Goose steppers take too lofty a stride and let their feet dangle in the air. See the third walker in the following diagram. When the foot is dangling, it is neither pushing nor pulling the body forward. This wastes time the body could be gaining forward momentum.
Sliders drag their foot forward. While your foot is dragging along the ground, you will slow down.