Walking Pain Be Gone: How Poking Your Belly Button Can Change The Way You Walk
We all take walking for granted. It's something we do every day without much thought. But if walking has become painful and difficult, it can really impact your quality of life. As a health and fitness coach, I often hear from people who have started experiencing ankle, knee, hip and back pain from walking. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The good news is that with a simple movement drill, you can retrain your walking pattern to be pain-free.
In this blog post, I’m going to share a technique I recently learned from Tyler, a coach at WeShape. He explained that most walking pain stems from moving in an “ipsilateral” pattern, meaning your whole body shifts from side to side with each step. This puts added stress on your joints. Instead, we should walk in a “contralateral” pattern, keeping our body vertically aligned as weight shifts evenly from foot to foot.
How do we relearn this? Tyler suggests a brilliant drill using your fingers, belly button and nose. He says, “Put your fingers in your belly button and on your nose. This gives you awareness of whether your spine is vertical over your foot as you practice this drill.”
Here’s how it works:
“Take one footstep, transferring your weight without letting your nose wiggle side to side over your belly button. Pause and check that your foot, pelvis, belly button, and nose are in one straight line.”
“Slowly take the next step, planting your foot and again finding that vertical alignment from foot to nose before moving on.”
Tyler recommends taking 10 slow, controlled steps this way every morning before getting out of bed. He also cautions against letting your knees rotate inward, which many of us do habitually. “Instead, turn your knee outward slightly as you shift center of gravity over each foot. This activates glutes and hip rotators to protect your back.”
When I first tried this fingertip to nose drill, I was amazed at how much side-to-side sway I had in my walking pattern. But after just a few days of practice, my walking felt easier and more stable. According to Tyler:
“When you practice this every day, it's going to change the way your walk works naturally and it's gonna make your knees, your ankles, your hips, and your lower back feel so much better.”
I couldn’t agree more! If walking has become a pain, don’t just grin and bear it. Try this simple movement drill to realign your walking pattern. Your joints will thank you. Now poke that belly button and start stepping right!