Adjustments for Various Terrains in Fitness Walking

What I’ve discussed so far applies to any kind of terrain, but you’ll experience different challenges when you head off road onto trails, grass, or sand. Depending on the softness of the surface or the hilliness of the terrain, you could use from a third more to double the amount of energy you would walking on smooth, paved surfaces. That  can be an advantage. But if you’re  a beginner, you might tire  more quickly, so take  your  off-road  walks in short doses to start.

A few tips for walking  on  a different terrain start with focusing on  your abdominal muscles. Keep them tight  to support your  back  and add  power to your  stride. Tight  abs  also  help  keep  you  balanced and  upright on loose or uneven surfaces. They  are the  key to just about every movement.

Adjustments for Various Terrains in Fitness WalkingIf you are on a trail with rocks, roots, or an otherwise uneven surface, try to step between obstacles to avoid slipping off them or twisting an ankle. Also, try to stay  nimble. Rather than committing to each foot  plant by landing solidly with all your weight  on a flat foot, stay  on your toes slightly so that if you start to slip or twist, you’ll able  to make  the transition to the next foot quickly without disastrous results.

Hills  demand  different technique depending on  if you’re  going up or down.  On an  uphill,  use  your  toes and lower-leg muscles to push you forward and up. Use your arm swing as a mini-motor for extra power. And  don’t lean into  the  hill; this  may  strain your  back  ( see “common walking errors” listed later).

On  a  downhill, what you do depends on how steep the hill is. On a minor to moderate  downhill, soften or  relax your  knees just a bit to counteract the  additional impact as  gravity tries to pull  each foot  quickly to the ground. Rather than  leaning back, remain upright. On a steeper downhill, you might  be more comfortable zigzagging like a skier to lessen the steepness. You might  also  want  to  lean back  just a little if the  surface  is smooth and paved. If the surface of the hill is uneven or loose, don’t sit back on your  heels. This may throw your weight  back,  causing your  feet to slip out from under you, leaving  you on your  behind.

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