The muscles we use for walking are:
- the “quads” ie, rectus femoris, vastus medialis and vastus lateralis,
- sartorius, which runs from the hip to the inside of the knee,
- gracilis, inside the leg,
- hamstrings ie, the muscles at the back of the leg comprising biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus,
- shin muscles ie, tibialis, peroneus longus, and calves ie, gastrocnemius, and soleus.
The glutes propel your leg forward. As you step forward, your tibialis and flexor digitorum longus flex your foot upwards. The back leg engages your gastrocnemius and soleus in the lower leg, and the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles in the upper leg.
Taking a step
Each time you take a step, you need to lift one foot off the floor while balancing your body weight onto your other foot. Your hips tilt sideways while bending your knee and you land on your heel propelling your body forward. You then straighten the forward leg while the back leg prepares to bend.
Benefits of walking
Read more about the benefits of walking: How to walk your way to a slim body and watch the video on the benefits of walking:
In a meditation workshop I attended, all participants were asked to really focus on the mechanics of walking and turning their attention on each movement that makes it possible to take a step. I found this exercise to be particularly useful when walking.
What we take for granted is actually a complex dynamic of synergistic movements. Biomechanically, dozens of muscles engage at the same time to move the body forward.
As far as the thought processes are concerned, we walk “on autopilot” so we use our autonomous nervous system to give the right commands to our muscles.