Is there a proper way to walk?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
When walking, shorten the length of your step so that when your foot strikes the ground, you are striking less through the heel and more through your midfoot or forefoot. Unlock the right knee prior to striking the foot down onto the floor. Make sure the hips are over the foot at footstrike, not behind it. This is the most common movement fault I see with walking, that the hips are too far behind the foot instead of over it. When the body is over the foot (weight-bearing through the arch) and the knee is unlocked at foot strike, the gluteals (gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles) should naturally turn on. If they do not, then there are three possible causes:

1) The hip is still too far behind the foot.
2) The knee is not unlocked.
3) You are not weight-bearing through your arch.

Lean your hips forward over the knee to engage the gluteus muscles. Now do you feel them? Bend the knee further, maintaining weight through the arch of the foot or bend forward at the hip to get them to turn on. Try this on the other side too.
Fixing You: Hip & Knee Pain: Self-treatment for IT band friction, arthritis, groin pain, bursitis, knee pain, PFS, AKPS, and other diagnoses

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Fixing You: Hip & Knee Pain: Self-treatment for IT band friction, arthritis, groin pain, bursitis, knee pain, PFS, AKPS, and other diagnoses

Hip and knee pain are often a result of poor pelvic muscle performance in combination with poor walking habits. This combination creates tracking problems in the hip socket or excessive rotation at...
Michael Nirenberg
Podiatric Medicine

Yes - just like there is a proper way to swing a golf club, tennis racket or run a race. However, I would change the word "PROPER" to BETTER. There is a better or "MORE CORRECT" way to walk. I have devoted most of life to analyzing walking and teach people how to walk correctly. When we walk with poor form and posture, our joints can become abnormally strained. Correct walking - walking with good form and posture, lessens abnormal strain on our muscles and joints, actually alleviating pain and allowing a more complete motion, which leads to a more complete workout while walking. To learn more you can visit my site,

When completing any form of exercise, you want to make sure you have proper form to get the most benefit and prevent the chance of injury:

  • Walk tall with great posture
  • Keep your chest tall
  • Have your arms slight bent at about a 90 degree angle to help pump as you walk. You on the occasion may want to shake them out to keep blood flowing to all extremities
  • Be sure not to over stride. Walk within your comfort zone.
  • Focus on controlled breathing patterns


These tips should assist. If you need more, let me know!

Start with a modest goal, like 15 to 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. Your walk should be comprised of three segments: warm-up, exercise pace and cool-down.

• Walk the first 5 minutes at a reduced pace, about 50% your maximum effort.

• Then pause and do some stretches. Focus on your calves, front of thigh (quadriceps), back of thigh (hamstrings) and lower back. Stretching not only feels great, but it keeps your body flexible and it may help prevent injuries. Remember: stretching is only effective once your muscles are warm, and stretches should be gradual and sustained. Hold each for 30 seconds and never bounce or force movements.

• After stretching, walk at an exercise pace. On average, brisk walking for 1 mile can range, depending on your age and general condition, from 15 to 20 minutes, or about 3 to 4 miles per hour. Remember: Never exert yourself beyond feeling as if you are doing "moderate" work. A good test is that you should be able to carry on a conversation while you walk.

• Keep your shoulders back and relaxed, and let your arms swing naturally.
Remember that your heel should strike the ground first, and that you should push off with your toe.

• Try to keep an even stride and maintain a steady pace.

• The last 5 minutes of your walk, gradually slow down to your warm-up pace. Then, finish with a few more stretches. Stretching after you walk gives your body time to cool down and your muscles a chance to relax. It also helps your heart return gradually to a normal rate.

Gradually, perhaps on a weekly basis, add 5 minutes to the brisk part of your walk. Keep the stretches as part of your routine. Once you're walking for 30 minutes or more, try to increase the distance you go, for example, a block at a time within the same time frame. For optimal fitness, exercise at the brisk pace of your walk for a minimum of 20 minutes, four times a week.

Continue Learning about Walking Biomechanics

Walking Biomechanics

Walking Biomechanics

Walking around at any given time, you may not think too much about your strides, posture, breathing or arm movement. When you walk for fitness, your form can affect your walks and even contribute to your risk for injury. Learn mor...

e about proper walking form with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.