18 Jan Try off-road walking
How do you roll (walk)?
When you go for your regular walk or run do you prefer to pound the pavement or get off the beaten track?
For many of us, we don’t think twice about walking on the hard, unforgiving surface of the footpath and not that lush, soft green stuff next to it. The truth is, we can actually be doing harm to our joints and our nervous system by repeatedly striking the concrete up to 3000 times during a half hour walk.
Understanding the walking machine
The human body is designed to stay upright under any circumstance; this is called balance. Balance is a beautifully complex thing, involving our inner ear, eyes, joints, muscles, tendons and central nervous system. When we are thrown off balance all of these sense organs work in unison to keep us from falling over, all in the blink of an eye. So, when we spend all our time walking on perfectly flat, hard surfaces we are actually depriving our nervous system of vital stimulation. The unfortunate thing about balance is that if we don’t use it, we lose it. By walking only on footpaths, we are essentially weakening our nervous system.
What is the solution?
Well, as modern humans we are forced to walk on concrete on a regular basis, but there are some simple steps you can take to challenge that nervous system and improve your balance:
- Walk on the grass not the footpath (be carefull of long grass and potential hidden obstacles!)
- Try walking/running barefoot where it’s safe (the beach or oval).
- Don’t go for shoes with the most cushioning, this will mask the impact on your joints if you walk on concrete.
- Take it off-road! We are running, walking, climbing and crawling creatures. Incorporate as many different terrains into your walk as possible.
- Don’t just move in a straight line. Dodge obstacles, trees, dogs, children! The more movement, the more your balance is tested.
- The most important thing to remember is that walking on uneven surfaces means more stimulation for the central nervous system, which will improve your fitness and reduce your chances of having a serious fall later in life.
So get off the footpath and have fun! Do you have any favourite off-road tracks? Have you tried the 1000 Steps neighbour, Sherbrooke Forest Walk?
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