fbpx Give Your Walk the Green Light! | Gokhale Method Institute
Sign up for our Positive Stance™ Newsletter

Give Your Walk the Green Light!

May, 2024

The best art often communicates on many levels. The Walking Men 99™ exhibit is a great example. It consisted of a frieze of pedestrian crossing icons, photographed and assembled from around the world. At human scale, they mingled with passersby on the sidewalk. 

Walking Men 99™ exhibition, Manhattan, NYC, 2010
Walking Men Worldwide™ is a series of public art installations by artist Maya Barkai, which was launched in Lower Manhattan in 2010-2013 (Walking Men 99™), and was followed by a series of installations around the globe. www.walking-men.com

From a posture perspective, signage featuring pedestrians offers us an overview of how modern urban people perceive, represent, and execute walking. Some lean back in line with the front leg, others lean forward in line with the back leg; some land with a bent front knee, others land with a straight knee; some have a straight back leg as the front leg lands, others do not. No other mammal on earth shows such variation in its locomotion!

Does variation in gait matter?

In traditional rural villages across Africa, India, and South America, when I study walking, I see a more uniform walking pattern. This holds true across different cultures, ages, and occupations. Intriguingly, this gait is also shared by our young children, and can be seen in antique photographs, paintings, and sculptures of our ancestors. It results in a uniquely smooth, elegant, powerful walk that is rare enough, it merits a special name, glidewalking

Four images of people of varying ages and cultures glidewalking.
Glidewalking describes the healthy and efficient human gait pattern shared across different generations and cultures.

Glidewalking is very different from the various stomps, shuffles, totters, bounces, and other strategies that people in modern urban societies bring to their walking. Any type of walk can get us from A to B, but anything short of what our bodies are designed for is likely to be inefficient and, over time, destructive. Twisting, swaying, slumping, or jerking the spine with every step causes compression, inflammation, damage, and degenerative processes. Suboptimal gait biomechanics are also largely responsible for our epidemic of knee, hip, and foot problems, which include cartilage wear and tear, joint arthritis, and plantar fasciitis.

Take a closer look at walking

In the Glidewalking chapter of my book, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, I included a variety of pedestrian traffic signs to show how they can reflect and promote different gait patterns:

Detail of pedestrian crossing signs, Pg 170, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, E. Gokhale
Taking a fresh look at pedestrian crossing signs—from a posture perspective. (Page 170, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back)

Most public signage reflects our confusion about walking. Signs often depict walking with either both legs bent, or both legs straight at the same time, or some other compromised configuration.

Three airport signs showing walking figure, weight aligned on the front leg.
These airport signs show weight aligned on the front leg and little effective propulsion from behind.

Straighten out your walking

A good first step (literally!) is to learn to straighten your back leg fully. This has numerous benefits: 

  • pushes the ground back strongly to propel you forward
  • encourages you to lean a little forward rather than backward 
  • encourages glute contraction 
  • encourages healthy pelvic anteversion
  • encourages your back heel to stay down and your foot to be active for longer
  • stretches your calves
  • is nature’s stretch for the psoas

We recommend you start practicing by walking uphill, or pushing a rolling chair or shopping cart, which makes all of the above benefits easier to find in your body. 

Stop sign showing walking figure, weight aligned with straight back leg.
This sign in the Philippines shows healthy walking form, with the torso angled slightly forward and the leg behind straight. Image from Bonifacio Global City

No entry sign showing walking figure, with both legs bent.
Unfortunately, this guy is not doing such a good job… Image from Angela Bayona(Toggear.com

Notice how these animated walking figures differ…but both have a straight back leg.

 

Take a step in the right direction 

Over the decades we have worked out how best to guide students through the process of improving their gait. Deeply ingrained poor walking habits can be replaced using tried and tested techniques in a step-by-step process.  This is covered in all of our beginning courses: our in-person Foundations course, one-day Pop-up course, and our online Elements course. 

Alumni can sign up here for our next Advanced Glidewalking Course, starting Monday, June 03, 12:00 p.m. PST and give your walk the green light!

Best next action steps 

If you would like to improve your walking, get started by booking a consultation, online or in person, with one of our teachers. 

You can sign up below to join any one of our upcoming FREE Online Workshops

Like what you read and want more? Sign up for our newsletter!

Comments

A provocative look at how we see and depict walking in contemporary culture, the Walking Men 99TM exhibition masterfully encapsulates urban life and human mobility. The artworks by Maya Barkai not only decorate the sidewalks but also entice onlookers to consider the subtleties of their own posture and movement.
Page| slice masters

I just registered for the Advanced Glidewalking Course and I'm thrilled. The concept of glidewalking sounds amazing, and I'm looking forward to developing a more efficient and pain-free Retro Bowl College walking technique. This course is exactly what I need to enhance my daily walks and avoid future health problems.

Upcoming Workshops

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Thursday, July 25, 2024
5:00pm

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Wednesday, July 31, 2024
7:00pm

Europe/Ljubljana

Open spots: Open
Language: Slovenian
Teacher: Sabina Blumauer

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Thursday, August 01, 2024
11:00am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Thursday, August 08, 2024
7:30pm

Europe/Berlin

Open spots: Open
Language: German
Teacher: Julie Johnson

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Saturday, August 10, 2024
11:00am

Europe/London

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Clare Chapman

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Monday, August 12, 2024
5:00pm

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Monday, August 26, 2024
10:00am

Australia/Sydney

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Tegan Kahn

Move like you are meant to

Date and time: Sunday, September 01, 2024
11:00am

Europe/London

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Clare Chapman