Take cars, for example. When was the last time you walked to the store to buy groceries? If you live in a large metropolitan area, you probably did this yesterday. But for the rest of us who live in urban or suburban areas, walking has become a thing one does occasionally for “exercise,” not for transportation. But tell me this: have you ever driven to a park that is a few blocks away? Do you drive to a gym to go and exercise? Hmmm.
Our ancestors walked. A lot. You could say that our anatomy is built for it. Humans can walk for miles and miles, hunting for food, gathering berries, exploring for a new water source, etc. The human foot itself is a marvel of engineering. It contains 26 bones and 33 joints. Man couldn’t engineer a structure as intricate and effective but we do our best to improve it, if there’s a market for it (I'm looking at YOU, Nike).
The human foot has withstood hundreds of thousands of years yet in the last fifty we've treated it like it was broken beyond repair. Think about it. Only humans are silly enough to put 3 inches of foam in between the foot and the ground and think that was a good thing (another topic altogether). Regardless of your choice of footwear, we all need to walk more.
Walking has a multitude of benefits. People who walk have lower blood pressure and triglycerides. People who walk consistently outlive those who are sedentary. Walkers have improved congnitive function and they are less likely to be depressed. Children who walk are much less likely to be obese or suffer from orthopedic issues in adulthood. The list goes on.
Suffice to say, walking is a great way to get exercise, explore the world, and get around. But did you know that walking is one of the best things you can do for your spine, as well? It’s true.
Walking promotes good balance, tone, and flexibility in the postural muscles. Walking also promotes good circulation, pumping nutrients into the soft tissues while flushing toxins out. Walking also helps to prevent osteoporosis. And, of course, walking is an important part of any weight management program, which keeps extra weight off your middle (and off your spinal joints).
But what if you sit all day and don’t have time to tiptoe through the tulips for hours at a time? You can start out by parking as far away as possible at the office, grocery store, or mall. Devote 15 minutes to a brisk walk every day before work. Take a quick walk over lunch. Take the stairs as often as possible. Take breaks from your desk job and do a quick lap around the office. It all adds up.
Take a walk with your spouse or significant other every night after supper. Not only does this promote good health, but it also creates a unique bonding moment. In addition, if you have young children, you will be instilling healthy habits in them that will last a lifetime.
I realize that this advice is tough to follow if you are unable to walk because of back pain, leg pain, or sciatica. That’s where a chiropractor may be able to help you. The pills aren’t going to fix your problem. And if they do manage to help dull the pain, they often make you lethargic, which means you’re just as likely to spend the evening on the couch instead of on the path. Fix the joints that are damaged and once they are stable, make walking a part of your overall health maintenance plan.