Foundational Movement Series: WALKING / RUNNING

Posted by Jane Diack on

This week we explore the seventh and final foundational movement in the series, Walking/Running

Walking is one of the most functional movements we do everyday. It is a very complex and coordinated movement that most of us have been doing since we were 14-15 months of age.

Walking in predictable environments, without obstructions on an even surface is largely conducted automatically with little conscious control. The ability to perform automatic movements is an important aspect of movement control and increases functionality.

However, when clients perform walking under varied conditions such as in the water the predictability changes. Walking in the water is a great way to improve flexibility, strength, balance, coordination as well as motor patterning.

Teaching a client the walk in the water is relatively easy to instruct but can be somewhat frustrating for the client.

The client should keep a good upright posture and perform opposite arm and leg motions with a heel to toe pattern. The problem arises when the waters drag effects the arms and legs differently and requires increased effort to coordinate.

Common compensations are limited step length, uncoordinated arm swing and increase forward posture.

There are many variations of walking that can be performed in multiple directions with multiple types of devices at multiple speeds.

  • Teaching a client to properly walk backwards in the water is one of the most difficult exercises to teach from my standpoint. The client has to perform and activity that they are not accustom to and with the added resistance of the water it makes it even more challenging. When performed correctly, backward walking is a great exercise to open up the hip joint and to recruit the gluteals.

In my experience it will take a few sessions before the client is able to get the correct  walking pattern before increasing the amount of resistance.

Remember Pattern and Posture Before Intensity.

Walking Forward


Walking forward, maintain proper posture.Keep step length equal and opposite arm and leg motion.


  • Keep Core /Buttocks Muscles Tight
  • Keep Good Stride Length

Possible Compensations:

  • Forward Posture
  • Decreased Reciprocal Arm Swing Same Arm and Leg Swing Decreased Hip Separation/Extension

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