A form of cardiopulmonary exercise consisting of fast walking with exaggerated swinging of the arms.
As someone with osteoarthritis in both knees, I can’t run or jog anymore. I’ve gotten used to that, but it took a while, since I used to be a competitive runner back at Newtown HS in Queens, many moons ago. I ran middle distance and cross country and always thought of myself as a “real” runner, not just a jogger like everyone was starting to do back in the 70’s. I never did like to run in the street. My college running career ended after one day when we did a 5 mile run in the streets of Flushing. I immediately developed shin splints and that was that. When I did start to run again for exercise I always made sure it was around a track or on grass or paths. But I never caught the running bug again. It always seemed to lead a lot of folks to various foot and leg injuries. The jarring of the skeleton on a hard surface didn’t seem to make sense, but I know a lot of people get great benefit from running (including my 3 kids and wife) so who am I to try to discourage anyone.
Since I recently, more or less, went into retirement from playing basketball at the Y (OK, now talk about jarring the skeleton and more injuries than can be named) I have been using the cross-trainer and knocking out 300 or so calories per 30 minutes, while channel surfing on the handy dandy TVs mounted on the machine. It’s OK but kind of boring, and Jackson our dog really preferred a walk rather than me hanging out on the cross-trainer. So I decided to spend more time walking Jackson twice a day and taking longer walks. I joined all those walkers out there, populating the streets of Palo Alto, day and night. It’s great to see so many people walking, sometimes talking, often on their smartphones.
But it started feeling like a waste of exercise time to just be walking. Spending a good half hour walking when we could be doing something a little (or a lot) more strenuous for a greater physical (and psychological?) benefit, didn’t make sense to me. Then the other day, I don’t know where it came from, I had this vision of those crazy looking race-walkers competing in the Olympics. So I broke into what I remembered looked like race-walking. I walked up to Ramos Park and started to go around that track like an Olympic race-walker, arms pumping, trying to keep one foot on the ground at all times, stepping with my heal first. I was sweating and feeling “pumped”. Jackson couldn’t keep up with me. I had to let him loose and hope he didn’t get lost (he didn’t.) Man, I was going to be in training for the Senior Olympics. I was hooked…
By the next morning I could feel the shin splints, not felt since 1970, making a comeback. They hurt. I started watching videos of race-walking and reading up on shin splints and found out that they are fairly common in this sport. There are exercises and stretching to help avoid them, but apparently they aren’t totally avoidable. I was totally disappointed. Something found, something lost. I started reading about power-walking and speed-walking and realized if I let go of my new dream of winning Senior Olympic gold in a sport with specific rules and that requires heel-first walking, I could simply switch over to power-walking. I use a mid-foot strike rather than my heels and I haven’t had shin splints since. Here’s some info from livestrong.com re. power-walking. I think it’s worth a try if you want to get more out of that evening stroll (especially if it’s your only exercise of the day.) Have fun:
Walking is a simple and natural way of moving, but with proper technique, you can turn casual walking into power walking or fitness walking. Power walking is a low-impact way to improve cardiovascular endurance and total body strength. Some of the benefits of power walking are that it helps tone and strengthen your muscles, improves physical health and burns the same amount of calories as jogging. Keep a few tips in mind when power walking, in addition to checking with your physician prior to starting a fitness program.
Warm up with a few calisthenics exercises such as jumping rope or jumping jacks for about five minutes. Choose a casual walk for five minutes for a low-impact option.
Stretch your muscles to prevent injury. Perform calf, quadriceps, hamstring, hip flexor, shoulder and triceps stretches once your muscles have become warm enough to stretch.
Place your arms in a 90-degree angle and keep your back upright.
Position your head in a neutral position that is in line with your spine. Keep your gaze looking forward and not at the ground.
Open your mouth slightly to ensure proper breathing. Tighten your glutes and abdominals.
Step with your heel first and then distribute your weight onto your toe while using your hips to push you forward. (This caused me to have shin splints so I don’t lead with my heel – MAX)
Alternate arms and legs forward to maintain walking in a straight line.
Cool down by slowing your pace and dropping your arms by your sides. Continue decreasing your pace until your heart begins to gradually return to normal. Stretch each muscle for 20 to 30 seconds each.
• Do not walk with hand or ankle weights. Adding weights to your walk will not increase the calories burned, but may cause injury to your joints, tendons and ligaments, according to DiscoverWalking.com.
• Do not bring arms across the body; arms should move in a forward direction. Wrists should pass your hip bone when moving them back and forth. Do not swing your elbows higher than your breastbone.