Walking Mindfully

Notice if when you walk you sway your hips, bounce, or take very small steps. Notice if you place your feet parallel to each other or pointed inward or outward. You may want to see a physical therapist and have your walk evaluated, as a preventative measure. By becoming more mindful of your gait, you can protect your spine.

Take Bigger Steps

If you take small, quick steps when you walk, try taking longer steps. Keep your spine straight up and down as you walk, and swing your arms. When you step with your left foot, your right arm swings forward, and vice versa. This helps with balance and helps you flow as you move.

Strengthen Your Abdomen

As you walk up and down stairs and on dangerous terrain, hold your abdomen in. The benefit is that you will strengthen those muscles and protect your spine. It's important to know both how to strengthen your abdomen and how to allow it to relax.

A good way to practice relaxing your belly is to sit up and place your hands on your belly. Inhale, and feel your belly expand into your hands. Exhale and feel your belly pull back toward your spine. Now, breathe naturally, keep your hands on the belly, and allow the belly to relax.

Practice relaxing your belly and strengthening it, every day. You can practice contracting your abodomen for ten counts and relaxing your abdomen for ten counts while in the car, sitting at your desk, and walking through the grocery store. Here's one way to strengthen your abdomen muscles:

1. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Place your hands on your belly just beneath your belly button.

3. Contract the muscles from the perineum up to the belly button.

4. Hold for ten seconds while still breathing in and out.

5. Release, and feel your belly relax

Practice this a few times in a row. Over time, work up to doing ten repetitions in a row.

Relax the Belly

Just as important as strengthening your abdomen muscles is practicing relaxing the abdomen muscles. While strong abdomen muscles will protect the spine, a soft belly will ease nervous tension and help with overall relaxation. Practice engaging the abdomen for support and releasing the abdomen for relaxation.

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