8 Tips for Safe, Mindful Walking
Put your mind in your feet.
53% of falls in healthy older adults occur while walking.When we go about our business each day, we probably never ask ourselves whether we’re walking safely. When we rush, multi-task, and are distracted we’re less likely to be aware of those broken sidewalks, uneven surfaces, cracks in the pavement, that last staircase step. It is very important that we walk mindfully. Here are eight tips to reduce the risk of slips, trips, near-misses and falls while walking.
1. Stand tall with your shoulders back, abdominals engaged, and your head up. While maintaining good posture, scan in front of you for hazards, but do not angle your head down. Fall Stop…MOVE STRONG™ reminder: “If your head’s down, you’re half way to falling down.”
2. Walk heel-to-toe. Strike the heel of the foot on the ground and press through to your toes. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart to help maintain better balance.
3. Engage your thigh muscles to help lift the feet off the ground. The action of walking begins at the hip and travels all the way down through the foot. Do not walk from the knees down only, but engage your whole leg. Imagine your legs like wheels propelling you forward. Oh, and don’t forget to use your arms — let them swing naturally.
4. To change direction while walking, spot (stop and look at something) then turn. Often when turning a corner or reaching around for something, we lose balance because our body moves before we focus. Like dancers, adults need to spot before they turn.
5. If you are walking in the snow, engage abdominal muscles and lean slightly forward. Place the entire foot firmly on the ground, making strong contact. Each step should be slow and deliberate — like a monster — with your abdominals always engaged to keep your center balanced.
6. Imagine yourself 20 years younger. I always recommend imagining how you used to walk. How did you move and can you recreate that feeling? Avoid the mindset that limits you to how you think someone your own age walks and moves.
7. For your wellbeing, make walking a mindful meditation. Pay attention to your breath and how you’re moving. Forget about the shopping list and be present.
8. Anchor your mind. Anchor your body. Take prevention seriously.