Balls of the Feet or Heels? Tips To Improve Your Walking Technique and Posture

Ein Mann geht im Freien

So you’re interested in getting in better shape and have committed yourself to going for a walk everyday to get your step count up? Or are you looking to include walking in your fitness routine for a little variety? Great choice! Before you start, check out these tips for your stride and your posture.

Woman walking up the stairs

Toe strike or heel strike — which is better?

If you’re a parent, few things are as exciting as seeing your child walk for the first time. You may have noticed that toddlers tend to favor walking on tiptoe or on the balls of their feet. This is due to the fact that their anatomy is not yet as developed as that of an adult. As humans grow and develop, we tend more and more to strike with our heels first when we walk:

  • Heel striking: Heel striking describes the action of your heel making contact with the ground first, followed by the ball of your foot in a sort of continuous rolling motion. This type of movement jolts the string of bones running along your upper heel. This method of walking or running has become natural for us over time because it requires minimal effort, but in reality this way of walking is often the cause of joint pain and spinal trouble.

Therefore, we recommend switching to toe striking:

  • Toe striking: As mentioned above, this is actually the way humans instinctively move, as seen in children learning to walk. As adults we also move this way in certain circumstances, like when we climb stairs or dance. When toe striking, your forefoot makes contact with the ground first, rolling backward and finishing with your heel on the ground. The benefit of walking this way is that it activates the string of muscles in your foot and and minimizes impact on the bones in your heels and ankles. This is beneficial for the health of your ligaments, tendons and joints. It also tones up your musculature in general. If you do it consciously, you could even consider toe striking as a kind of training method — walking or running toe-to-heel actually requires more energy compared to the heel-to-toe style.

Heel striking puts pressure on the chain of bones in the foot, which can result in joint pain. Toe striking, however, activates muscles, strengthening not just your legs, but your whole body.

Training yourself to toe strike:

It takes time to adjust to new habits — so even if it sounds simple to change your walking technique, it won’t happen overnight. Next time you go out for a walk, try to focus on walking toe to heel. Make sure to wear shoes with plenty of cushioning that offer you the necessary flexibility and support.

The proper posture for walking

Have you ever finished a nice long walk and then started sensing some aches and pains in your back? In order to avoid that, you need to maintain the right posture while walking.

Expert Tip:

If you’re experiencing back pain in your day-to-day life or have trouble staying upright while walking, improving your core strength can help.  

Want to go for a walk? Download the free Runtastic Steps app Runtastic Steps app now and track your steps!

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Tina Ornezeder Tina is a passionate editor, loves avocados & yoga and is very curious. She likes to discover new trends and report on them. View all posts by Tina Ornezeder »