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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Racewalking
The Hip Way To Walk

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

 

“I love to watch the racewalkers.  They look so smooth - - - like they’re dancing.”  That was the comment a group of us heard as we glided past a group of tired joggers in mile 5 of the 1997 Peachtree Road Race.  It was a far cry from the comment, “You know, that funny kind of walking that you do.”

That was said to me in 1989 by the principal of Boca Middle School when he asked me to teach a racewalking class (my very first one) in Boca Raton, Florida.  I didn’t think racewalking was funny looking.  When done correctly, I thought it looked beautiful, graceful, poetry in motion.  He had obviously never seen the Olympic racewalkers.

I acted like I had never heard it described as “funny looking.”  But, of course, I had.  We all have.  Quite frankly, the older style of racewalking with the exaggerated hip motion did look funny to many people.  Everyone focuses on the hips.  So, let us also focus on the hips. Or as the beginning racewalkers ask, “When are you going to teach us the hips?”

If your technique is good, you don’t have to think about your hips much.  They’ll do what they’re supposed to do.  However, if your hips are wiggling side to side - you’re being inefficient.      Racewalkers want all their energy directed into forward motion.  If your hips are moving laterally, you’re taking away from forward motion.  (Same goes for the elbows.  That’s why you should keep your arms close to your body as you move the arms through a range of motion from your sternum to your side seam at the waistband.)

Pretend you are racewalking down a very skinny hallway.  You don’t want your hips (or your elbows) to touch the walls.  If they do - you’ll get some concrete reinforcement.  Pretend, O.K.?  Direct all of your hip action into forward motion and get rid of wasted sideways motion.

While we’re pretending - picture pistons (like on the wheels of a locomotive) on the sides of your hips.  With every step, the pistons help your hips to rotate forward.  Hip rotation is not hip wiggling.  There’s no lateral motion.  Imagine a train going down the tracks.  Would the caboose wiggle side to side off the tracks?  Think of your legs moving forward like the train’s wheels with your hips acting like the pistons.

Remember to plant your heels on an imaginary 4-6 inch balance beam, as discussed in a previous article.  If done right, your hips take care of themselves.  Best of all, people might not describe you as that funny looking walker.

 
© 2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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