Working in downtown Toronto I see so many different types of people and with that brings poor gait and posture.  Due to the nature of our jobs and the mentality to work, work, work, most people don’t allow themselves enough time to get up and go for a walk or even just stretch at their desk.  Chronic overuse of the same posture does not make for a pretty retirement.  It is crucial that you acknowledge your level of activity NOW before you end up barely able to move in our golden years.

The 2 most common postures I see are the ‘hunchback’ and the ‘duck walk’.  Older adults are notorious for having the ‘hunchback’ but it didn’t start from them getting older… began way back when they weren’t stretching and strengthening their upper body.  The main reason this posture happens is from tight pectoral muscles (typically pec minor) and weak back muscles.  When the back muscles are weak they have to work overtime to keep your scapula (shoulder blades) in proper alignment.  This is why you would typically feel a lot of tension in your back and neck.  Keep conscious about pulling your scapula together towards the spine/midline of your back and keep your shoulders out of your ears.  This is most crucial when sitting at a desk.  It’s easy to get comfortable and allow your shoulders to round forward but being conscious of your posture will ensure a healthy back and body in the coming years.  Another key point to remember is to engage your core muscles.  So sit up tall on your SITS bones (bony protrusions on the underside of your pelvis) and pull your belly button in so your core muscles are engaged.  Make sure to maintain your breathing; pulling in your belly button doesn’t mean holding your breath.

Tight hips are what result in a person walking like a duck; specifically the abductors and glutes.  Now, if you’re a ballet dancer or gymnast, this is how you have trained and often it feels natural to walk toed out.  I’m talking about the average person that isn’t conscious about their posture.  Your hip range is important as it is the basis of your movement.  Our legs support our entire body so they should be strong, powerful and limber.  Your hips range of motion determines how large your strides are and even how your foot strikes the floor.  Our legs are all connected right from the foot to the hip so if you’re experiencing discomfort in any of the joints it may be a result of how you walk or another factor inhibiting your ability to function properly.  It is important to stretch, stretch and stretch some more.  The great thing about the legs is that you can stretch them while you work.  All you need is your chair and a bit of space.

For a look at the different types of stretches you can do to improve your ‘hunchback’ or ‘duck walk’ posture, view my Youtube videos below.

Have a fit day,

Alexis Talledes