The ChiWalking Technique
Strengthen your Core and Relax your Legs
The ChiWalking technique provides a revolutionary way to enjoy injury-free fitness walking. You’ll proactively strengthen your core muscles with every step. Most walkers tend to overwork the muscles of their lower legs by pushing off too hard with their toes. This can lead to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, sore toes or a burning sensation on the balls of your feet.
To avoid overuse injuries to the lower legs, the ChiWalking technique teaches you how to redirect the workload of propulsion to the strong core muscles around your pelvis and lower trunk area instead. We have developed learning tools and a new ChiWalking website filled with great information on how to stay fit and get the most from your walking while generating the least amount of impact to your bones and joints.
Here are three questions commonly asked about the ChiWalking technique that shed light on what your hips, legs and feet are doing.
1. How does the ChiWalking technique differ from the ChiRunning technique, and can I learn to walk faster with ChiWalking?
In the ChiRunning book, the training paradigm is Form, Distance, Speed … meaning that you learn and practice your running technique in that order. This guideline can be equally applied to ChiWalking. Don’t attempt walking at faster speeds until you have your walking technique down at slower speeds and you can hold your technique together for longer distances. Your propulsion comes from leaning slightly from your hips when you’re ChiWalking and not from your ankles, as you do in ChiRunning. At slower paces your propulsion comes from a mixture of gravity pulling you forward as you lean and hip rotation. It becomes increasingly more a function of hip rotation at the faster speeds. BUT, until you can walk with completely relaxed lower legs, you shouldn’t be powering your legs with the rotation of your pelvis or you’ll default back into pushing with your feet, which over-taxes your lower leg muscles.
2. Should I feel myself pushing with my feet as I walk?
You should always be working towards a stride where your ankles and lower legs are as relaxed as possible. This will mean that you eventually will not be pushing off with your feet and toes (the smallest muscle group in your legs), but using a mix of the pull of gravity (by leaning forward from your hips) and the rotation of your pelvis (to drive your legs). Whenever you’re walking uphill or at faster speeds, you will feel some push off with the rear foot and your leg (both of which should be as relaxed as possible). BUT, your foot is driven by your leg, which in turn is driven by the rotation of your pelvis. Propulsion should not be done with your foot muscles … ever. This shifts the work responsibility to your core muscles, not your legs. When walking uphill, it is also important to shorten your stride and lean your upper body into the hill.
3. How do my feet land when I’m ChiWalking?
In order to maintain less impact to your knees and hips while walking, it is important to always keep your leading leg bent at the knee. This will allow you to land on the area of your foot just in front of your heel (closer to a mid-foot strike). Most walkers straighten their leading leg and strike the ground with the back of their heel. This type of heel strike sends a shock to the knees, hips and lower back.
The width of tracking should be slightly narrower than hip width and should be maintained with each forward step. Find a crack in the sidewalk and stand with your feet together straddling the crack. This is the relative position each of your feet should have with each step … just to either side of your centerline. The only time you should step with one foot in front of the other is if you’re walking on a tightrope or a runway, which self-eliminates a lot of us.