Oh how I love to talk about extension! It is so important to maintain the natural extension of our spine that I can’t help but talk about it again.
What does extension do for us? It lifts our ribs allowing us to take in a deeper breath, it allows for better shock absorption throughout the length of our spine, it positions our muscles at the perfect length to contract, and more. It is our job to maintain our extension as we work against the many forces that are pulling us forward into a flexed position throughout our lives. The force of gravity pulls us forward, the endless daily activities that are performed out in front of our bodies pull us forward, and don’t forget how most of us sleep in a curled up flexed position as well.
I have written about how swimming is a great extension activity, I have encouraged you all to lie for 5 minutes on your stomach each and every day, and I have written extensively about postural awareness helping to extend your spine throughout your day in both sitting and standing positions.
Now I would like to talk about how to get more extension when you walk. This is one of those simple adjustments that you can add to your daily walk outside or even as you walk around the house. It is as simple as exaggerating the push off phase of your walk. “Popping off your toes”. More than likely this will be a change from your normal walk where your heel strike is the dominant force that occurs as your leg reaches out in front of your body. Now, I want you to focus on a strong push off from the ball of your foot, especially your big toe, as your leg is extended behind your body. This simple change in emphasis will automatically decrease the impact of your heel strike and increase the muscle activity on the back side of your body. The beneficial muscles that will be activated include your glutes, your back extensors, your hamstrings and of course your calf muscles.
Give it a try today. This is one of those activities I encourage everyone to do. The teenagers with slouched posture will benefit, the new mom who is always cuddling her newborn will benefit, and men and women working to maintain their posture later in life will benefit. Exaggerate your push off and feel the difference!