For me the bad thing about winter is that I don’t skate as much as I would like to. But what I found out the recent months is, that even if you cannot skate due to bad weather conditions, you can still always train and prepare yourself for distance skateboarding in a very simple way: by focusing on the proper walking technique.
So how will this work and what is the proper way to walk? Amongst barefoot enthusiasts and fitness coaches there are different opinions on what is the best and most natural way to walk. Some propagate the so called fore-foot walk, where you first let the balls of your foot touch the ground before putting the rest of it down. Although this is a method widely used when running, it is doubted to be as efficient for the purpose of walking. Researches indicate that fore-foot walking is not the natural way to walk for a human being. The other extreme is to walk using a heel-strike. This is the most common way to walk, as we all usually put down our heels first before completing a step. But an over exaggerated heel-strike (as provoked by our cushioned shoes with their raised heels) can put too much burden on the knees and back on longer walks. Thus the best way to walk seems to be the method of mid-foot landing, where the whole foot is brought down to the ground almost at once while distributing the body weight over the center of the foot sole.
In terms of yin and yang this seems to be the perfect symbiosis of the two other extremes (as both have their advantages and disadvantages) and a natural and efficient way to walk on longer distances. This method of mid-foot landing is also part of ChiWalking as described in the book „ChiWalking - Fitness walking for lifelong health and energy“ by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. To practice ChiWalking is a great way to benefit ChiPushing as both have a lot in common; starting with the alignment of the spine and body and continuing with how to move your legs in the correct and relaxed way.
Of course you could also train for distance pushing by practicing ChiRunning. But the motions when walking are slower which will make it a lot easier to control the correct way to move the legs. In addition you don’t have to prepare yourself by changing your clothes like when going for a run. But the best thing is: walking as a necessary part of our life can be done almost everywhere and anytime throughout the day.
How is it done? The correct way to perform mid-foot landing is to let the feet touch the ground directly beneath your body’s center of gravity. This is the main difference compared to heel-landing where you would extend your legs in front of the body to let the heels touch the ground outside of the body’s center of gravity. For proper mid-foot walking it is necessary to extend the legs more to the rear than to the front. Although as a natural part of balanced walking every step will also let your legs reach out to the front a little. When doing it right your legs will swing from back to front with each step like a pendulum, but without fully stretching the legs out in the front. If you are not used to this way of walking or if your muscles in the front area of your hips have shortened due to a lot of sitting on chairs, you will probably feel a stretch in your hip flexor muscle at the top of your upper leg. That’s a good sign. After the rear leg comes to the front, the „hard“ contact with the ground will happen with the middle area of the foot and beneath your body. This whole way of movement is very similar to the way of ChiPushing, where we also use the center of our foot to land on the ground. We can also easily transfer this walking principle to the Chi-Skogging transition of moving the back foot to the front of the board. That’s just to name a few of the similarities.
Finally this way of walking can also benefit your pumping ability. This may sound weird, but try mid-foot walking for yourself and you will feel how it activates the muscles in the back of your lower legs. The same muscles are also much used in the wiggly LDP-style of pumping. A beginner who is not used to the method of mid-foot walking will often start to feel pain in the calf muscles after some time. The same can happen when pumping. The good thing is that with training your body will adapt itself. With time you will also learn how to walk more relaxed. The pain should then disappear.
Of course it is possible to train these parts of your legs directly with specific muscle training, too. But ChiWalking still remains a gentle and effective method to prepare and train for long distance pumping.