Do you feel as if walking or running is clunky and uncomfortable – or simply a supreme effort? Why not ask yourself this question: When was the last time you felt connected, comfortable, and joyful in your walking or running? What were you doing? How old were you?

Follow that inquiry with this question: What happened that began to chip away at your effortless walk or run, and your joy of movement?

Watch a child run or walk and here’s what you’ll see: a lack of effort and a lack of tension. Kids just move. They don’t suck their bellies in, adjust their posture, or pull their shoulders back. They haven’t learned how to do that yet and, in the best case scenario, they haven’t accumulated an excess of tension (SMA) that can get in the way of their easeful movement.

Here are a few things you can play with in order to figure out where your tension lies and how it may be effecting your walking, running, going up and down stairs, and so on:

  1. Do a walking scan and while you do that, put your fingers in your ears and listen to the sound of your walk. If you hear your heels thudding loudly, you can be sure that your back muscles (Green Light Reflex) are contributing to any tension you may feel in your walk because you’re using excess energy just to hold yourself upright.
  2. If you hear yourself coming down harder on one foot than the other you can be sure that you have habituated to a Trauma Reflex. This creates an imbalance in the center and you may even notice that you’re limping. One leg is working differently than the other. This can set you up for an injury or even a fall.
  3. If you hear a shuffling in your walk, or it feels as if your legs are walking you around, you’re probably habituated to the Red Light Reflex. When the front (the abdominals, hip flexors, chest) is tight, your pelvis can’t move freely, so your legs do all the work.

What did you discover about your walk? Once you’re clearer on which reflex(es) you’re more habituated to, incorporate a walking scan into your practice to become aware of the changes in your walk that occur when you pandiculate the muscles of the front, back, and sides of your body.