You don’t have to “race” to be a Racewalker. You don’t even have to walk fast to begin getting the benefits from the most efficient form of fitness walking. However, in time, you will become a quicker walker and still be able to enjoy the experience of strolling through your neighborhood.
Racewalking is only a term used to define a style of fitness walking. Racewalking is the most efficient form of walking but you don’t have to “race” nor walk at hyper speed to get its benefits.
It’s the emphasis on technique, safety, and, most importantly, focus that set this form apart from other types of walking.
Technique: Racewalking is a competitive sport with walkers covering long distances while under the watchful eye of judges who ensure they follow Racewalking rules.
1) One foot must be kept on the ground at all times – the common element of all walking.
2) When the advancing leg touches the ground, it must be on the heel and that leg must be straightened as it moves underneath the body.
Racewalking does look a little odd because of the straight leg rule but the form makes the most use ofthe ground by maximizing your stride and the fact that your legs grip the ground from the heel to move forward, releasing from the toes.
Racewalking is completely different than running in which the feet strike the ground, usually around the ball of the foot and rely on a spring motion to move forward.
Safety: Racewalking is extremely safe – regardless of speed – because the feet are only gliding along from the heel-to-toe contact with only a little bit of lift from the ground, about an inch or two just to move forward.
It’s also safe because Racewalkers keep an upright posture. There is no leaning at the waist as runners do; any back strain nor knee and hip issues. Additionally, Racewalkers have a consistent, balanced stride – meaning they do not “overstride” by reaching out farther than their body will allow. No chance to over-extend the tendons. Runners lifting their legs to gather ground which can easily result in an assortment of injuries due to the constant pounding on surfaces.
Focus: Racewalkersalways keep their arms bent at a right angle so their legs move synchronously. Arms are moved back and forth, but only to get the power from the back muscles as the body propels forward.
For more information on Racewalking, check out this Basic Primer.