A Question: when you walk, in which direction do your legs move?
Most people say ‘forward’. This is correct, but only part of the picture.
YOUR LEGS MOVE BACKWARDS AS WELL.
Not only do they move backwards from a ‘forwards’ position, they also move behind the line of the body.
If you think this sounds odd, try an experiment. Put one foot on a step, sideways, so you can dangle the other foot over the edge (I recommend doing this at the bottom of the stairs, not the top). Now think of your leg as the pendulum of a clock. Swing it to the front, and then to the back. Don’t twist your pelvis, just move the leg.
See? It goes behind you. A small(*) but very significant amount.
It amazes me how many of my students are really surprised when I tell them this. “I never thought of it like that” comes the reply. And it shows in their movement. Someone who thinks that their legs don’t move backwards doesn’t move them backwards. Instead they lock their entire upper leg/pelvis region with extra muscle tension. The result? Their leg reaches the upright position and no further.
Imagine what would happen to the pendulum if you stopped it half way through the swing. Not good for the clock. Not good for the human body either. It makes it very hard to walk(**). Or run. Or do quite a lot of different sports.
So how do you make your leg move backwards? Well, there are muscles involved. Surprising muscles that I will talk about next week.
But for now, the most important thing is: You don’t have to make your leg move backwards. It will swing through the whole of its natural range if you let it. Your job is to stop the muscle tension that is locking your leg solid, and let it move.
Try it out on the bottom step. Then go try it out when you walk. If you run, try it then as well. And do let me know how you get on.
(*) To about 30 degrees
(**) When you are walking, it is your foot that stays still and your body that moves over it, but you still need the same backwards swing in your leg to get a nice, easy stride.