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7

Great Gait! Seven Steps to Better Walking

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
picture of hike at Rancho la Puerta

Go for a walk

Any time of year is a great time to take a walk, but at this time of year you see hundreds of news reports and blogs touting the benefits of a Thanksgiving Day walk. Have you ever wondered if the WAY you walk is helping or hindering?

Kymberly just gave a fabulous workshop at Rancho la Puerta about gait, and I thought I’d share some of her tips so that you can figure out if your gait is aging you or supporting your continued youthfulness.

Gait workshop at Rancho la Puerta spa by Kymberly Williams-Evans

Kymberly is giving some pro tips about gait

Pace. Comfort. Stride

Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.

Arm Swing

Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.

hiking at Rancho la Puerta spa

Use your arms and legs in opposition

Look and Listen

What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!

Pulling from Hamstrings vs Pushing from Glutes

Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?

picture of Ahnu shoes

Remember to look down every so often when on a walk

Slow Mo’ Walk

Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?

Head and Chin Check

If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!

Zip Trick

Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you trot around the block on Turkey Day.

hawk at Rancho la Puerta

Also remember to look up

If you want your very own professional gait assessment, contact us at info@funandfit.org. For $59 U.S. we’ll give you a complete, detailed assessment based on a video you’ll send us. And for free we’ll tell you that good posture makes you look 5 pounds slimmer, more confident, and sexier.

6

Looking for Wellness in All the Right Places: Tenaya Lodge Health and Wellness Retreat

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Enter Tenaya here

Enter the zone here

Start saving your money now and clearing your schedule later to make a worthwhile investment in your happiness and well-being. If you have the opportunity, resources, and desire to attend a health retreat, then head to Tenaya Lodge and its Ascent Spa. (Take the stairs, not elevator as the spa is just one floor down).

Tenaya Lodge gift basket

Welcome to Tenaya Lodge Gift Basket

We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.

We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.

View from Tenaya Suite

Room with a View

Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!

In just 48 hours, we:

Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:

  • Organic skin care by Kimberly Parry, owner of Kimberly Parry Organics,
  • Fitness trends and effective fitness consumerism by Jen Ator, fitness editor of Women’s Health magazine,
  • Tea tasting, history, and knowledge by Donna and Tai Tokugawa, owners of Chado-En Tea Docents, and
  • an Interactive cooking class with chefs Freddie and Didier (yup, he was French). We made pannacotta and sushi. We won’t mention that we rolled one so large that the chef called it a sandwich!
Presenting Posture session at Tenaya

Before I took my own posture advice.

Zann drums

Color to beat the drums about

Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.

 

 

Kymberly feels lifted at Tenaya

Stumped for good places to visit? Head to Tenaya Lodge. Bring us!

From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!

We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.

Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voicemaerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.

 

 

 

Table decor at Tenaya

Even the table decor was healthy and creative

Yosemite views

Snow! Probably brought in especially for us!

Personalized cooking instructions to take home.

Personalized cooking instructions to take home.

 

Fashion apron gift from Tenaya

Fashion apron gift from Tenaya

 

Ascend to Ahhhhh at the Ascent Spa

Ascend to Ahhhhh at the Ascent Spa

11

3 Ways to Perfect Your Posture: Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat is One

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
 
Disclosure: In our capacity as fitness experts, we are being compensated for the events mentioned below. We don’t make any money if you join us; you just get great advice and a fabulous experience with two service-oriented companies – Tenaya Lodge and Sherpa.
Good Posture vs Bad Posture

Good Posture vs Bad Posture

In our previous post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, you discovered some of the benefits of good posture. Today you get tips on ways you can find and maintain good alignment. Plus we want to extend invitations to our west coast readers who are eager to revel in better health and happier bodies. (Hint – treat yourself to a spa weekend at the Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat in late March).

Kymberly: First up – Pretty Posture Pointers

  • Stand with your back to a wall. Do your shoulder blades, buttocks and heels touch the wall? Evenly?
  • Stay at that wall to do some of your exercises (such as bicep curls or forward raises) with your back and shoulders against it. Focus on whether you can maintain contact with good spinal alignment. You will easily notice coming out of alignment if you fall forward off the wall.
  • Do only back and downward shoulder rolls. Skip up and forward rolls. Why roll the shoulders up and forward when they are most likely already in that tense and hunched position?
  • When you are sitting in a chair, scoot your hips as far back in the chair as possible. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Even better, sit on a stability ball instead of a chair or stool.
  • When sitting on a hard surface, center your weight over the front edge of your “sitz bones” (ischial tuberosities) and imagine wiggle wagging your tailbone into the correct position.
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to lengthen into good posture, stand up, walk around, and reestablish alignment. Name the timer “mom” and let yourself be nagged, er reminded.
    Stop! In the Name of Posture

    Stop! In the Name of Posture

  • Implement my famous “Zip trick” Imagine a zipper that runs from your pubic bone to your chin. Zip up. Then (here’s the important part) imagine a second zipper that runs from the base of your neck to your tailbone. Zip DOWN right between the shoulder blades. Watch our Posture Zip Trick video.
  • Strengthen your back muscles.
  • Strengthen your core. Yes, we know these last two constitute more than “tips.” But what discussion on posture would be complete without mentioning the real, long term criteria to achieve beautiful alignment?

Alexandra: Posture Assessments at the LA Fitness Expo and Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite

I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.

Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to two super duper events, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

This Saturday, January 25, we’ll be at the Sherpa booth (#556) at the L.A. FitExpo doing free posture and gait assessments from 1:30 – 3:30. Please stop by if you’re attending.

And at the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care.  Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.

Now THAT'S  a scenic hike!

Now THAT’S a scenic hike!

Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and

“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”

When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.

Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge