Walking on even surfaces or rough terrain? According to new research uneven, rough, terrain is better for your feet.
Once upon a time, we walked on a diverse terrain – over pebbles and paths, rocks, forests, in high grass, on boulders, we might have had to climb over an obstacle or two. Diverse terrain also means different loads to the very mobile architecture of the foot with its 33 joints and more than a 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. This also meant varying loads on the ankle, knee and hip joints – thus tissues were stimulated at different rates, intensities and frequencies.
What’s the opposite of this? Shopping at the mall? Walking around the paved path around a lake in your community? Where does your shoe-protected, stiff, sensory deprived foot get to encounter the symphony of inputs that nature provides? No wonder most of my clients suffer on long walks through the supermarket – once a tissue is overloaded it doesn’t take much of repeating the same stimulus over and over again to aggravate it. Galina Denzel
In practice, walking on uneven surfaces has been difficult for me since I started MassWalk 2017, because most of the mountain chains across Massachusetts run along a North-South axis. Choosing to walk in a west to east direction you’ll only find hard asphalt roads, like Route 9 which spans the state. To counter this I walk on the far shoulders of the road as much as possible. One for safety, and secondly to spare my feet from the hard pounding they would take on the concrete surfaces. Most rail trails across Massachusetts are typically made of some sort of mixed asphalt which can also be hard on your feet. Regardless, they are still wonderful to experience and they serve as a great introduction to hiking and other activities.
While the shoulder of most roadways are not the more beneficial rough terrain as described in the accompanying article, it’s still fairly diverse, and it gives my feet a lot of feedback from the unevenness.
So, What’s Your Walking Surface IQ?
To learn more about new walking science research check out this article entitled: What’s your walking surface IQ? by Galina Denzel, a Nutritious Movement certified restorative exercise specialist.
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