Walking with attitude

One of the great things about the Alexander Technique is that it can be applied to everday activities.

Walking is something most of us do at some point during the day, whether it’s a walk to the shops or from the desk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. But how many of us stop to consider HOW we walk?

And does it matter anyway? Well, that depends.

I was out walking in the Lake District with a friend who complained that she was experiencing pain in her hips pain as she was walking up a steep path. I noticed that she tended to lean forwards at her hips, took long strides and often used her hands to push on her thighs in order to propel herself up the slope. From the expression on her face could see that she was finding it a strain.

Fortunately I was able to offer my friend an alternative.  By encouraging her to think of her head going upwards she prevented herself from leaning forwards. This gave her more space in her hip joints so her legs could move more easily.

I suggested that she shortened her stride. As a result there was less strain on the legs, removing the need to push with her hands.

But by far and away the biggest shift was in her mental attitude. There was a strong desire to ‘get to the top’ which was accompanied by her perception of the effort required.  By getting her to replace this with the idea of allowing the path in front to come to her the perceived effort was lessened. This made walking easier, not just because she was using less energy, but because she went from hating the experience to, while not exactly enjoying it, finding it an achievable task.

Now, walking up a hill in the Lake District is an extreme example, but it often takes extreme examples to highlight subtleties.

Next time you walk somewhere, take a moment to observe yourself.  What is your attitude to this walk? Are you happy and relaxed or are you rushing, wanting to be there already? How does this manifest itself? Do you have a free, easy walk or are you stiffening, gritting your teeth as you hurry towards your goal?

Stop walking and pause for a moment. Think of the top of your head going upwards. Pick a point in the distance. Allow yourself to move forwards towards this point. Let this point come towards you as your legs move underneath you. Observe yourself again. Is there any difference in your walk?

A shift in attitude towards our everyday activities can often bring about a fundamental change to our experience of that activity. One that involves less stress and strain giving us more energy to deal with the rest of the day.