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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 08, 2011

The Definitive Guide to Walking

By Mark Sisson
284 Comments

At first glance, this title probably threw you off. I mean, a guide to walking? Are we moderns really that dysfunctional that we can’t even walk correctly? C’mon, Sisson – you must be out of ideas.

Bear with me, here.

It may seem silly to need a definitive guide to walking, but I think we do. First off, walking is no longer necessary for basic everyday survival. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, the average person reading this blog can get by just fine without walking more than a couple hundred yards each day. Whether via buses, trains, cars, bikes, or delivery services, you’re not going to starve or die of thirst just because you don’t or can’t walk. I’ll argue that walking is an essential human activity that we ignore to our ultimate detriment, but millions of people do exactly that and think nothing of it. Progress? In a wider societal sense, sure. But on an individual level, people still need to walk.

Second, because walking is no longer “necessary,” we – the general, inclusive “we,” not necessarily the Vibram-clad elite – have forgotten how, when, where, and why to walk. Our technique is shot, we lack proper scope (a mile sounds daunting), we don’t even think to make time for regular walking for walking’s sake, and walking is seen as the last resort to be employed only when the tire’s busted, the train isn’t running, or the bus is late. Kids don’t walk home from school anymore (what, with all the lurking pedophiles?), people hop in the car to run down to the corner market.

I don’t always like to pull the “Grok logic” card, because it doesn’t always apply to our current situation. Here, though? Yeah. It makes sense, so pull it I shall. Walking is our birthright. The weird way we humans do it – obligatorily upright, hands free to wield tools and weapons, harsh sunlight coming at us from an angle instead of head on, relatively generous glutes making the whole production go – gives us a survival advantage. Well, it gave us enough of one to help us blanket the globe with funny shaped footprints. And our feet aren’t exclusive to homo sapiens: a 1.5 million-years old homo ergaster footprint preserved in Kenyan mud reveals that hominids have been using essentially the same feet and the same stride for hundreds of thousands of years. That means that before our big complex brains hit the scene, the same feet you enjoy today were stomping mud and carrying our distant ancestors around. These feet are millions of years in the making. I’d say that’s a pretty good track record, and I think it’d be a shame if you didn’t utilize them.

Grok walked a lot. Heck, he walked everywhere. Riding animals didn’t appear until after the agricultural revolution, so unless you buy into the ancient aliens theory, you accept that our paleolithic ancestors relied on self-ambulation to get around. It seems pretty plausible to suggest that we’re probably well-adapted to walking on a regular basis. I’d even go so far as to posit that walking might even be highly beneficial to our health and well-being. Given our extensive history with the activity, you might even say our genes “expect” us to walk.

What does the evidence show? Surprise, surprise: walking is good for you and enacts multiple beneficial changes in our bodies. To name a few:

I could go on but I won’t. Suffice it to say, walking is overall a healthy activity. I don’t think there’s any disputing that. Besides, droning on about the physiological benefits of walking detracts from the real reason I want you to walk so much: it’s an enjoyable way to get out, move, be active, and experience the world.

Despite it being our birthright and really healthy and all that jazz, many of us would be well served with some walking technique tips. Note that I don’t condone the usage of bulky, heel-centric shoes, so all technique tips given assume that you are barefoot or in minimalist shoes with minimal to zero heel drop. Sorry, but that’s just how I roll.

The Leisurely Stroll

This is the everyday walk you use when walking to the farmers’ market, through the mall, or down to the watering hole across relatively flat ground. Lead with the heel, a straight but not locked leg, touch down briefly and lightly before transferring the weight onto the balls of your feet. What you get is a smooth rolling sensation. Check to make sure your glutes are firing by walking with hands on cheeks. You should feel your glutes tense up with each step. In public, this looks suspect, so do the self-assessment from the comfort of your own home. This is not heel-striking, which is a running style characterized by repeatedly slamming one’s heel into the ground to the ultimate detriment of one’s lower extremities. This is heel-touching, and it’s far less abrasive.

The Stalk

When you’re hunting something or making your way across an uneven landscape dotted with rocks, sticks, and (like, maybe, you’re hiking off trail) other bits, use the stalk. Keeping your knees slightly bent at all times, walk by focusing on the balls of your feet. Your heels will touch, but your midfoot lands first. Take shorter steps than you would when heel-touching.

Walking Uphill

Land fore/midfoot first. Touch down with the heel and engage your glutes to propel you upward. Repeat with other foot.

Walking Downhill

I like landing with my entire foot. Maybe the heel hits first, but I try to land with my whole foot. Walking downhill is an exercise in stopping yourself from hurtling downward, so this can get tough. Absorb the impact with your hips by keeping the weight on your heels, rather than your toes.

Whichever method of walking you use, always keep your torso on top of your hips. Stay upright (you’re a biped, so act like it!). A floppy torso that bends and sways throws off your balance and wastes valuable energy. Stay tall.

In my experience, it’s the easy, seemingly inconsequential stuff that’s the hardest sell. The crazier, more unconventional stuff gets all the attention. Tons of people get out there and do heavy squats, order grass-fed cows, buy the latest Vibram model, learn to love liver, and proudly stride barefoot into the grocery store – but they drove to get there. It’s the easy things, like walking regularly and often, that are somehow the hardest to do. They’re the easiest to ignore. Walking? Yeah, it’s nice, it’s relaxing, but it won’t put on the mass and elicit the hormonal response of a set of heavy deadlifts. It isn’t sexy.

Walking matters, folks. Big time. If we stop moving, even if we’re standing at our desks and hitting the gym every other day, we’re dying. We’re telling our bodies that we’ve given up, that it’s okay to shut down, that all those millions of years of daily, constant walking were an aberration, a mistake, a fluke. That’s folly. I think you know it, but I don’t know if you know it.

So get moving – starting tomorrow. Wake up ten minutes early tomorrow and use that extra time to walk around the block. Practice the different walking techniques. Go barefoot. Feel the ground beneath you. Enjoy the still dewy blades of grass slipping between your toes. Feel the serrated edges stimulate those long-dormant nerves. Ignore the mythical broken glass, infected syringes, and rusty nails littering the ground and welcome the occasional uncomfortable rock digging into your sole. It happens, but that’s life, and it’s okay. Just keep it moving and leave it all behind.

Do you take time out of your schedule to walk? Should you? Do you have better things to do? Let us know how you incorporate walking into a world where walking is a leisure activity!

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284 Comments on "The Definitive Guide to Walking"

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Steven
5 years 3 months ago
When first replaced my regular shoes with Invisible Shoes (“barefoot sandals”), I was shocked to discover how aggressively I walked, slamming my heel into the ground, jamming force into my knees and hips. I felt like I was late for a business meeting in New York, even though I was strolling through idyllic Boulder, Colorado. Happily, the feedback from being barefoot — but with a layer of protection — totally changed my gait. I usually land midfoot, or I sort of roll past my heel (it’s more of a flat footed stride). And I tend to search out beds of… Read more »
Shamra
5 years 3 months ago

I have noticed that exact problem with myself. Slowly but surely my gait is becoming more relaxed, but it was just so surprising to find that I didn’t even know how to walk correctly!

Katie
5 years 3 months ago

Great post! When I started wearing Vibrams and walking barefoot, I felt like I had to completely relearn how to walk. I found that I walked much harder than I expected and always struck with my heel first… probably from years of wearing heels.
Now that I’ve adjusted to walking barefoot, I find that I walk much more softly and with a mid-foot strike, even in non-barefoot shoes.
Thanks for the reminder- walking is something almost everyone can do. Added bonus, if you walk outside, during the day, you get fresh air and Vitamin D!

Lindsey
5 years 3 months ago

I love walking barefoot! I have a 17 month old and I think he has only worn shoes a handful of time… the rest of the time he is barefoot.

Nutritionator
5 years 3 months ago

I really strongly think that this is why being barefoot as adults is so liberating and stress relieving, it brings us back to the peace of mind we had when we were children. I notice a distinct difference in my mood when I go a few days without a quiet walk in the woods.

christine
christine
5 years 3 months ago

I totally agree. I do a lot of walking since I live close to everything. But once I changed from running shoes to the vibrams my stride, and posture changed for the better. I love how my body feels now, with no more pain in knees, or lower back.

Crunchy Pickle
5 years 3 months ago

I LOVE walking rather than driving but find it a bit difficult in the suburbs where I bought a house (bad decision!) I looked up the “walkability” of my address and it was only a 5 out of 100! Laughably awful and definitely not primal!!

You can check out your score at walk score dot com. Hopefully you live somewhere more pedestrian friendly than I do!

Harry
5 years 3 months ago

Cool website, but sorta slanted. My address got a score of 35, apparently because I am too far from downtown, which I could easily reach by bike. I live a stone’s throw from a fantastic riverside trail. I can easily walk to grocery stores, banks, Borders, a university, a bus stop and good restaurants.

Erin (Pretty in Primal)
5 years 3 months ago

It’s not the best data, because the (rather large) neighborhood my address is lumped under gets a 42 (despite my house being within a mile of all kinds of amenities) while the next neighborhood over, which is one street away from me (and closer to my house than the majority of the one they lump me in) gets a 73. Quite a difference for walking one street up, lol!

doctorkira
doctorkira
4 years 5 months ago

yeah, the scores seem to be based upon some advertising of the listed locales. My home is under 1 mile from a theater, a library, a shopping area (cobbler, anyone?), a movie theater, a gym, a YMCA, schools, a few restaurants, and a train to a major city and 2-ish miles from major stores and amenities. 48??? I chose it for complete walkability 25 years ago.

shz
shz
5 years 3 months ago

i get a 97 out of 100. that is one advantage of city life, despite the other potential downsides.

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 3 months ago
The key to walking is slowing down. You can walk no matter where you live. it doesn’t really matter how close things are. I grew up in the suburbs and I walked everywhere! It was slow going but so far superior to driving. I had the opportunity to see so much and think so long. I loved spending my days on foot. I didn’t even bother to get my drivers license till I was 19. I have only owned cars for a few years here and there in my life and again I don’t. I walk and ride my bike… Read more »
Being Primal Dude
5 years 3 months ago

Just out of curiosity PPP do you wear your helmet all the time now after your accident?

Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 3 months ago

Quite obsessively, yes. Funny you ask though. Just on Monday it was 90 something degrees here and I took it off while I rode to pickup my daughter from preschool. I rationalized that it’s just a ride on quiet neighborhood streets, plus my reflexes are super fast since the accident. I’m wondering if I’m kind of obsessive about wearing my helmet now. It was a mountain biking accident after all and I only ride around my neighborhood anymore. I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t need a helmet. Maybe the accident really did do something to my brain!

Notch
Notch
5 years 1 month ago

dont forget… it is not the speed we are moving forward, it is the fall from our saddle to the ground that breaks our noggin… use yer brain bucket whenever you are on a wheel!

lyra
lyra
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the link! My good ol’ town has a walk score of 94, a “walker’s paradise.” But I knew that. 🙂

Be
Be
5 years 3 months ago

I’m not sure that motivation isn’t more important. My address is scored 20, but across from our suburban allotment is a nice 3 mile dirt trail. As often as possible when I need to run to the grocery for one or two bagfuls, we walk and talk the “long way” as often as possible. I just have to convince wife to do the possible more often 😉

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 3 months ago

i missed this…how do I get my score?

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 3 months ago

oops! never mind, got it.

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 3 months ago

it sucks, only a 15

Primaldog
Primaldog
5 years 3 months ago
I agree with one of the other responders. The website thinks it is great if you have to walk 20 feet to something. Also where I live it is 102 degrees reight now at 5 pm with 6% humidity. You don’t walk around in that stuff. A freind of mine broke down not 1 mile from my house and had to walk down the road (downhill literally) to another intersection about 3 miles away. I stopped by to see him the next day (I wasn’t home and where I work you cannot have a cell phone) and he was suffering… Read more »
hiker
hiker
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the link. The itty bitty town I live in out in the boonies has a score of 51.

Maria
Maria
5 years 3 months ago

My score was 0 out of 100! I live smack in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch farmland the benefit is there are alot of Amish selling their own eggs and produce!

Steve
Steve
5 years 3 months ago

Well, at least its not a zero like I got.

Marste
5 years 3 months ago

Too funny. My neighborhood gets an 83, which is definitely true on the surface: I’m close to all kinds of things. Unfortunately, it’s not the BEST neighborhood (though it’s near some nice ones), and as a woman, I don’t feel safe walking around alone. *sigh* I end up driving to the grocery store – a half mile away. 🙁

Lynna
Lynna
5 years 2 months ago

My score was a 32 and we have all kinds of grocery and restaurants close by but it’s decidedly pedestrian unfriendly because we would have to walk along Rt. 40 with limited sidewalks and crosswalks where even though the speed limit is 50, people drive 60 and above.

Julia
Julia
5 years 26 days ago

I live out in the county in a small community around a lake. I walk or bike the lake daily with my 2 year old son. I want to bike into town (approx. 8 mins driving) but I’m a bit nervous about it. I checked out that site just for fun to see the rating my location got… yeah 0 out of 100 and I totally agree with that. I will work up the courage though to bike into town soon.

Beth
Beth
4 years 4 months ago

This is funny, I didn’t look mine up, but I know that mine would have a horrible score since I live in the country and the nearest town is 8 miles away!

jetfxr69
jetfxr69
1 year 7 months ago

Hmmm. My address gets a “4”. Seems legit. We’re “car close” to lots of stuff, but limited sidewalks or rights-of-way make walking sketchy.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

I’d love to ditch the car completely and walk everywhere, but my husband would have a fit like an 8 year old.

Lindsey
5 years 3 months ago

🙂

Dani
5 years 3 months ago

Then you get to do what you would do with an eight-year-old throwing a temper tantrum… walk away!

Lindsey
5 years 3 months ago
I love walking! My hubby and I were just talking on how times have changed. We often walk over to our local WF if we need to pick up just a few things but really I do not see it ideal to walk with 2 small ones 2 miles! I also love watching this neighbor of ours walk to get her weekly groceries. She even carries the bags on the way back – no cart just arm strength! Only if we could live in the Grok time! or even Jesus! I mean he walked everywhere. We walked the desert for… Read more »
John Little
5 years 3 months ago

I feel much the same as Steven above, but I get that feeling on Dublins cobblestoned streets in my VFF’s. The inconsistancy under foot just stretches it all out nicely!

yodiewan
yodiewan
5 years 3 months ago

I walk on my lunch break (~30minutes/1mi) but the summer heat is making it less attractive. I don’t like coming back to the office sweaty. I also try to walk about a mile in the evenings. And weekends are great for longer hikes.

Nutritionator
5 years 3 months ago

Have any staircases in your building? I’m in NC and the heat has been terrible already this year and only getting hotter. I make sure to do a couple “laps” on the stairs in my building (only 3 stories but it’s something) a day just to keep my blood flowing. Makes a big difference.

Mike H
Mike H
5 years 3 months ago

I second that comment on the heat. It has jumped to August here in NC already. I go out twice a day for ten minutes, so not too sweaty. Try to break it up

primal tree top
primal tree top
5 years 3 months ago

Mark a great post and just what I needed. I’ve lost 50 lbs so far with just primal diet and this is a great way to transistion into working out. Thank you.

Chris Sturdy
5 years 3 months ago

Got Nike Frees about 3 months ago and had to re-learn how to walk with a more mid to forefoot strike. Now when I put on my more conventional shoes I feel like I am wearing cement shoes.

My next “steps” are some VFFs and some Sanuk sandals…and to figure out what to wear in Alberta at -40 that doesn’t feel like a boat!

Chris Sturdy
5 years 3 months ago

Maybe should have mentioned that I (and my wife and 2 Westies) walk my daughter to school each morning (about 20′ round trip) and we typically get at least another 30′ walk in later. Yesterday we had 20′ in the am and then 2×30′ later in the day.

Nic
Nic
5 years 3 months ago

I wouldn’t recommend running in the Free’s, but they’re a good walking or gym show

Lynna
Lynna
5 years 2 months ago

I like running in my Frees and my Merrell barefoot shoes.

Katzenberg
Katzenberg
5 years 3 months ago

Walking feeds my brain. I don’t know how to explain it, but the more I walk the happier I get.
And when my leg bones hurt from all the walking or hiking I’ve done all day I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

Bicycling or swimming doesn’t give me that feeling at all.

Al Kavadlo
5 years 3 months ago

This is one of my favorite of your posts, Mark! I don’t own a car or a bike, so I do lots of walking every day – in addition to working out! I’ve always gotten a kick out of folks who drive to the gym to get on a treadmill – gotta love ’em!

Hal
5 years 3 months ago
I got to spend almost all last weekend completely barefoot. It was really great, and a lot of fun. In addition to this, it’d be a great idea to look at the mechanics of running, also. POSE method seems to work best for barefooters (or near barefooters). It’s really interesting to realize and feel how much easier running gets when you lean your chest forward and let gravity help you move. I’ve been using barefoot analog shoes for almost two years now, and they’ve been fantastic. I am a big fan of Merrell’s new “glove” series. They’re seriously comfortable and… Read more »
Gabrielle
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for those suggestions!!

Hal
5 years 3 months ago

Correction: I said Kevin Starrett runs mobilityWOD. It’s really KELLY Starrett. Apologies to ‘kstar’.

Mark
Mark
5 years 3 months ago
Walking has been a big, big part of me going primal. Before, at 280+, I was getting plantar fasciitis. It was brutal to walk at all, let alone walking enough to count as exercise. Once I committed to going primal I looked into how to walk barefoot (the Stroll, as you describe it above), and adopting that method, even in shoes, helped me get past the plantar flare-ups. Losing weight made them less frequent and milder, too. Now I walk quite a bit more — as exercise, and as practice to re-train good walking habits. I’m a big fan of… Read more »
Gabrielle
5 years 3 months ago

I seem to have all of the same problems that you did (palntar fascitis etc) is there a place you can point me to learn how to do “the stroll”?

Mark
Mark
5 years 3 months ago
I believe this was the most useful bit I read: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/ (Big article/ad for minimalist shoes, but there’s a good infographic on page 5) I seem to remember doing some searching in Nikolay’s “Free the animal” blog, too. Basically, for me, it was: 1) Shorten my stride dramatically. (If I really am in a hurry, I just hustle a bit faster.) This keeps me from landing on the back of my heel and rolling through it. Instead the heel strikes more in the middle, very lightly, and just for a split second before rolling forward on to the balls of… Read more »
Gabrielle
5 years 3 months ago

thank you so much!!!!

Lynna
Lynna
5 years 2 months ago

I had problems with PF last summer when I jumped into minimal running with both feet – pun intended. Had to ho back to regular shoes for awhile and eased back into it with Nike Frees then easing into the Merrell barefoot shoes wearing them for short periods, then to work, then for longer runs (1 to 2 miles) and walks and no longer seem to have PF issues.

Ware
5 years 3 months ago

I agree that so many people are daunted by the small stuff, particularly the sense of scale. When I lived a mile off campus, getting people to come over was difficult. Then, I moved farther off campus to a more walkable neighborhood, and I have to do virtually all the commuting because two miles is “too far”, even for those with bikes. But that being said, I walk everywhere, time permitting, and only bike or bus as a last resort.

Mauricio
Mauricio
5 years 3 months ago

Great post. Walking is my favourite activity (rock climbing a close second) and should be done daily for at least an hour in my opinion. I try to aim for 2. It’s the most natural thing a human being can do, and it just feels right to walk in the woods with nature. It’s not hard to sell me the simple things Mark, they’re the best and easiest to follow!

NomadicNeill
5 years 3 months ago

Did anyone see that documentary (maybe it was Human Planet) about how they teach children in Africa to walk much sooner than they do in Western countries?

I thought that was pretty cool.

Reiko
Reiko
5 years 3 months ago

I heard about that in my psychology class! Psychologists think it might have to do with how mothers carry their children. Here, our babies are in strollers, and we tend to carry them sideways. In Africa, women wrap their babies in a cloth so they’re upright and attached to their mothers’ backs, looking over their shoulders as they walk.

Greg
Greg
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Mark,

enjoyed your post. Talking about form is part of perhaps the most important part of walking- mindfulness and relaxation. I hope everyone stops to smell the roses on their walks 🙂

EvansMama
EvansMama
5 years 3 months ago

I walk to the “corner” store when I need some quick food (as opposed to our CSA which requires driving), and to our not so corner store about a mile away, uphill (both ways 🙂 ). Good exercise.

Adrian Betts
5 years 3 months ago

Great post, but I’m wondering about the walking downhill part. Since I switched to Vibrams, I’ve found I prefer keeping my weight forward on the balls of my feet, even when going downhill. So long as my knees are bent slightly – but not so much that they extend beyond my toes – I find it much more comfortable.

Anybody else like that?

Hal
5 years 3 months ago

Yes, I know what you mean. As you pick up speed, I think your body naturally wants to move to the balls of the feet. I make a concerted effort to land on my mid-forefoot – think just slightly behind/off the ball of the foot. It feels a little strange, at first, but as I’ve gotten better/more consistent at it, I find that it gives me better control and/or stability through the step. Particularly when moving downhill.

Primal Toad
5 years 3 months ago
Start tomorrow? No! Now! Fellow groks and groketts… walk now! Are you on lunch break? Walk. Skip lunch and walk. Get into the habit NOW. Do NOT put if off another day. If you do you may forget about it. Ask your boss if you can take a quick 5 minute walk. Can’t do it? Walk as soon as you get home. I don’t care if you have to be somewhere. Cuz guess what? You don’t be 5 minutes late. Just walk. Even for a minute. I walk daily. On purpose. I love it. I sometimes walk in silence. Most… Read more »
Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

Hell no I’m not walking right now.
The rain’s coming down like cowpiss on a flat rock.

Seems that the only overcast is in Idaho and Montana, rest of the US is sunny…odd.

Brittany
Brittany
5 years 3 months ago

I always walk during my lunch break. It’s an entire 30 minutes of walking and getting fresh air! Why would I want to go sit again at a table when all I’ve done sit at my desk? Walking everyday at lunch seems to help with my muscle soreness from Cross Fit and other exercises. It helps keep my muscles loose!

Robin
Robin
5 years 3 months ago

Love the enthusiasm Primal Toad!

RitaRose
RitaRose
5 years 3 months ago

Nope!
I walk for a living (about 15 miles a day outdoors) and I had a whole week off!

But then again, what does someone like me do on vacation? Go hiking…

Never mind.

Nicole V.
Nicole V.
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve recently gotten into the routine of walking a mile or two with my 5 month old in a sling most nights of the week. It gives us both a chance to wind down and gives me an extra little workout boost. She sleeps better since I started doing this, too, which is a definite plus.

Lori
Lori
5 years 3 months ago

I have an “ADHD” Collie that needs to burn off energy, so I “kill two birds with one stone”, I walk him on a 12 block circuit most nights after work and we walk at a local State Park for 2.5 miles most weekend days. It helps him mentally and physically and it helps me mentally and physically. It is a win/win situation.

I have put a pair of Vibram fivefinger shoes on lay away and when I get them I’ll add walking “barefoot” to the walks.

Barb
Barb
5 years 3 months ago
If you want to walk more, as in every day, GET A DOG. Whatever the season or weather, my dog requires walking every day. She doesn’t care if it is a frigid, crystal clear dark December morning with the Moon still shining at 6:00 am or a warm drizzly summer afternoon – she wants to go OUT! Living with a dog – one of the most primal promoting things you can do to improve your health and well being. – requires daily walking/exercise – promotes play – decreases stress when you pet and stroke a loving,happy dog – silly behavior… Read more »
Tara
Tara
5 years 3 months ago

I 100% agree. 🙂 No matter the weather, the time of day, or how much I’d rather flop on the couch and watch tv, I have to get my two dogs out. Before work, after work, and before bed. And yes, they make me laugh every day. There is a reason that man and dog have been evolving together for so long!

Alex Good
Alex Good
5 years 3 months ago

Walking IS my life. I spend a good 3 hours a day walking on most days and up to 8 hours on days where I need to get stuff.
Just yesterday I spent 4 hours walking to buy a sledgehammer.

ElleHad
ElleHad
5 years 3 months ago

This whole article was quite, quite helpful.
At 21, I only realized 6 months ago that not only do I have fallen arches, but that they’re the cause of the ridiculous amounts of neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee, etc . . . pain and imbalance I’ve been experiencing for years now! Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time not only walking, but learning for the first time in my life how to actually walk properly. This article answered some questions I’ve either been unsure of how to ask, or felt silly asking. Thanks so much!

Hal
5 years 3 months ago

Also, I can’t stress enough how much the mobilityWOD website has helped me. Be sure to check it out, as he talks about neutral positioning and how to stretch/massage your musculature to help your body re-learn some of that neutral positioning that goes away when your arches fall.

Ryan Denner
5 years 3 months ago

Funny you mention the bit about scope. I felt like walking during my lunch break yesterday. I used google to see how far Trader Joes is from my work, and saw that it was a mile. My first instinct was “man, thats kinda far”. Then I snapped out of it, and walked there – barefoot, at a nice combination of a brisk and leisurely stroll. With shopping, I made it back to work in 47 minutes, and really enjoyed getting some sun at the same time!

Tara
Tara
5 years 3 months ago

Our perception of distance has really become skewed. I work in bike/ped planning and research, and we are trying to figure out ways to help re-align people’s perceptions – because most of our daily trips are less than 2 miles, and that is easily done on foot or by bike!

Luis Martinez
Luis Martinez
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Mark,. What about observing our biomechanics at walking?..I have learned until very late how to parallel my footprints as I walk. Observe a cat while walking they almost draw a straight line. It took some time, but it is possible. Thanks,lmb (mexico).

Robin
Robin
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve been experimenting with this too Luis Martinez, and I’ve found it really easy to do with a bit of practice. Don’t know if it’s the proper way too walk but it feels good and I can actually get a brisk pace going and still keep my footsteps inline. Foxes also walk like this and they look very graceful, they also usually trot at a good pace rather than “strolling”.

daniel
daniel
5 years 3 months ago

i run a small retail store so i’m on my feet literally all day long. plus my wife and i walk 3ish miles(we dont really care to count) about 3-4 times a week. i went barefoot in dec 2010 and haven’t looked back. my legs are alot stronger, my posture is better, the chronic upper back pain i’ve had for years is gone. also, as a martial artist, i’ve noticed a dramatic increase in overall balance and leg coordination. barefoot rules! oh, and so does walking!

Ali
Ali
5 years 3 months ago

Walking has become for me what a cup of coffee or a shower is to a lot of other people: it’s how I wake up.
I walk my dog ~5:30am every day before going to work. No vitamin D at that time, but it’s still relatively cool out in FL if you wake up before the sun.
On the weekends (we start ~6am), our walks are longer and usually we don’t finish until the sun is up. It’s great to watch the world come alive in the sunlight. 8)

Jessica
5 years 3 months ago

Great post! My hubby and I are always preaching the benefits of simply walking. And we love our new Vibrams that we learned about when we found your site recently. Thanks for all the amazing information and everything you do!

WildGrok
WildGrok
5 years 3 months ago

Check out Esther Gokhale’s magnificent book “8 steps for a pain free back” for walking instructions. Don’t walk, glide!

Donna
5 years 3 months ago

I recently started having heel pain in my right foot. I walk a brisk 3 miles a day. I am wondering what the recommendations are for foot wear. Maybe I am wearing the wrong type?

Carlos
Carlos
5 years 3 months ago
It didn’t make sense to walk barefoot at first. Our landscape isn’t the same as it was back then. Back then how we used to walk barefoot treading over twigs and other debris on the natural ground is now replaced by a nice flat cement-paved pathways to get to our destination. I see the shape of my feet, and the curvature on my feet make sense for unpaved grounds becuase its usually uneven but would its design make sense for a flat surface? At least when walking on natural ground it is soft but sidewalks are rough, just running on… Read more »
Timothy
5 years 3 months ago
In my experience, barefooting on sidewalks is just as easy as barefooting on dirt. In some ways, it’s even easier; the force of your stride is not absorbed into the ground. It is instead returned to your calf muscles, which work sort of like springs to recapture the energy. The one problem, as you mentioned, is that the surface is rather scratchy. If you’re used to wearing shoes, like I was, it will probably take months before your soles are thick enough to go long distances on concrete or asphalt. However, it does happen. I’ve gone from wearing shoes all… Read more »
Olive
Olive
5 years 3 months ago

I don’t think the link you showed is a human footprint?
If you look how the toe’s shaped, it’s bent inwards. this shows up on people who have grown up wearing toe-covering shoes.

Mary Anne
Mary Anne
5 years 3 months ago

Love the mental boost gained while walking. I’m so much more aware of surroundings. Thanks, Mark, for this topic!

Gary Deagle
5 years 3 months ago

I try and do fasted walks 4x a week for 30-45 minutes. In vibrams of course!

Rhys
Rhys
5 years 3 months ago
I got rid of my car a few weeks ago because I choose to walk or ride my skateboard everywhere. I walk many miles a day, and I actually just won a gift card and a feature article in my local co-op’s newspaper for alternative transportation. I think going to the store for what you plan to eat that day is a great way to get in a ton of walking. I only eat twice a day (lunch and dinner) so I will walk to the grocery store in the morning to buy what I’m cooking for lunch, and then… Read more »
Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

I’m wondering if Grok had thick padding on the bottom of his feet.
If we walk for hours over rough terrain wouldn’t the bottom of the feet be bloody and totally banged up?
I know for sure the Neanderthal already had ‘shoes’. They’ve also found leather shoes/booties made by american indians about 5000 years ago.

I wonder at which time (or era) mankind started to craft ‘shoes’.
Anyone know?

Shaun
Shaun
5 years 3 months ago

I know the bottoms of my feat are hideous by normal cultural standards. I do amost of my exercising barefoot or on occasion in Zems. Either way I have calluses from hell and I love them, they keep my feet from hurting.

An answer to your question. Probably, judging from personal experience, although I could be just as wrong as I may be right.

Shaun
Shaun
5 years 3 months ago
Agreed. Barefoot is the way to go. I damaged my knee pretty bad, wearing sneakers incedentaly, and thought I was down for a good month. The solution- just took the shoes off and all those squats, deadlifts, runs,and jumps magically stopped hurting. My knee was a little stiff, but it’s finally back in full form and now I’ve gone from psuedo-barefoot exercise to all out barefoot exercise. People may stare as I’m sprinting and lunging the length of a football field, but it feels great. Also helps keep the athletes foot away. The only downside, my soles of my feet… Read more »
Jim
Jim
5 years 3 months ago

I walk everyday, an average of 3 to 4 miles, it has made dramatic changes to both mine and my wifes activity level. If you want to do the same, get an active dog :). I am up at 5:30 am every morning to start my hike wearing my 5 toes and usually get home around 7:00 am. to start my day.

Nutritionator
5 years 3 months ago

One thing I didn’t see mentioned is how instrumental owning a dog can be in putting more miles on your own “dogs.” Pun completely intended.

Both my dog and I are so much happier when we get a walk in the morning and evening and he gives me that extra incentive I need to get off my ass and get the hell outside on some days.

Daveman
Daveman
5 years 3 months ago
Flat soled super cheap thin Chinese shoes..4 miles on gravel and sand and dirt up hills and down…1 hour or less..3 times a week..and I walk to the post office..1/2 mile RT…IF you use thin soles or the gloves or moccasins..you will re-learn to walk without the impact damage!! Grok did protect his feet…especially in colder climates..and walking on 90-100 degree stuff barefoot is just plain DUMB..blisters on the sole of your foot are no fun(did that-ouwwwch!)..So walk..but do protect your feet when it is called for…This Grok knows how to walk…anyone for a few miles barefoot in the sand… Read more »
Matt
Matt
5 years 3 months ago

Who cares about a computer score! Just step out your door and walk! Easy.

Leea
Leea
5 years 3 months ago

When I was a kid I walked every day for hours because I was so bored. God married and that quit. But I never had the proper shoe wear. I’ll be getting my first pair of Vibram’s pretty soon when I leave the sticks and find a store to try on some KSO’s. A question about the Sanuk’s, which pair is recommended? Many, if not all, are quit padded. Maybe I’m looking at them in the wrong way. I need something that’s good for dress wear so any help there?

Chris Sears
Chris Sears
5 years 3 months ago

I just ordered a pair of KSO’s online at http://www.benchmarkoutfitter.com. They are an outdoor supply store in (not all that) nearby Cincinnati. There are plenty of online retailers that sell the Vibrams.

Gabrielle
5 years 3 months ago
At 300 plus pounds and having had 3 knee surgeries before the age of 21 (now 41)-walking is kinda hard for me. I love walking and when I wear a pedometer (getting 10,000 steps a day in) I instantly lose weight. Problem is my knee also starts to go. This has been really depressing to me. I am having trouble finding exercises that work for me and get the weight off. I am wondering if the way I walk (heal striking first) is part of the problem? I will have to experiment. Thanks Mark for all of your help and… Read more »
Ed
5 years 3 months ago
I got stopped by police (sheriffs) last week in woodland hills for walking, they asked me if the reason Im walking is because I lost my drivers license 😉 I didnt need to explain as soon as he saw my skele toe shoes 🙂 either way. I stop driving locally period. I go to grocery store walking, I go to barnes and noble to do my reading also walking, post office, walmart, park, etc. Im from europe and I used to walk when growing up every day. it was normal thing for us. in usa people tend to drive a… Read more »
Being Primal Dude
5 years 3 months ago
This is an interesting topic. I just recently decided to sell my car. I realize this isn’t practical for most people but I was curious to see if I could go without one. I had thought about it for years and slightly preceded my move to the primal lifestyle. The transition has been a pretty easy one. I bike and walk most places now (I live in the city of Toronto so this is doable) and use ZIP car on the rare occasion I need it. Of course dating is a problem. Arriving on a bike and offering to give… Read more »
mox
mox
5 years 3 months ago
Among all the downsides of living in NYC, this is the biggest upside. I carry my groceries and my laundry to and fro, up and down stairs without even thinking about it. Walking two miles (each way) to our favorite ice cream spot is my husband’s idea of a romantic date. We may not be wholly primal, but we are wholly walkers. It really does make you feel good. I don’t even mind on days like today when it’s in the 90s and humid. At least a 30min stroll at lunch, that’s my feel-good rule. If I have an hour,… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 3 months ago

I walked first 4, then a minimum of 5 miles a day since may 9, 2010. Eating the primal diet, I have lost 90 pounds so far. And I lost those 90 the first 10 months.

Being Primal Dude
5 years 3 months ago

Wow! I would love to hear more about your story? That’s impressive to say the least.

Meg
Meg
5 years 3 months ago

Yes!! I would like to hear it as well.

Ashley North
Ashley North
5 years 3 months ago
Love it! I’ve gone on long walks several times a week for years. Wherever I’ve lived all of the neighbors get to know me really quick because I’m the one they see walking by their house all the time. Now I have a son whose almost two and he’s come to expect an almost daily walk around the neighborhood. Walking was also my constant during my pregnancy: on days that I couldn’t do much else I could get out for some fresh air and waddle around. I wasn’t primal during my pregnancy and I really think walking had a lot… Read more »
John the Drunkard
John the Drunkard
5 years 3 months ago
Unless you’re climbing a hill, the glutes aren’t all than engaged in walking. A very slight displacement of our center of gravity led by our long-range senses (sight, hearing, smell) takes us in the direction we want to go. We shift support from one foot to the other as our ilio-psoas engages to swing each leg forward. Most of the effort in walking is slow-twitch, red-fibre, postural, fat-metabolizing. Only as we speed up–or deal with hills–do our bigger muscles (glute, quadriceps etc.) join in. This is why bipedalism enabled us to migrate over the whole Earth so quickly. We are… Read more »
Tammy
Tammy
5 years 3 months ago

Mark – I love walking, I grew up walking with my Grandmother all over the place since she didn’t drive and they only had one car. Weather permitting I walk between 5-8 miles daily (3 miles at lunch 45 min)(2-5 in the evening with my walking partner dog, Cocoa). I get bummed though when the weather is bad, I just can’t do the treadmill.

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