How To Walk Uphill

Walking uphill can be done outdoors or on a treadmill by simulating an outdoor hill. Either way, there are correct ways to do it that will prevent injury and promote health.

  • First off, when walking uphill, make sure that your posture is erect. Do not lurch forward or hunch forward, no matter how tired you get. This will put stressful loads on your back, and you may end up with an aching back later that day or the next day.
  • If you start becoming tired while walking uphill, instead of leaning forward, simply slow down. If you slow down enough, you'll be able to maintain correct posture. Keeping your posture erect will maximize the efficiency of your breathing.
  • As for stride, this can be long, medium or short. The best plan is to alternate your stride length when walking uphill. This alternation does not have to be done constantly or even during every session. But just make sure to at least, from time to time, vary your stride lengths.
  • Walking uphill can also be done partially sideways or completely sideways. This will recruit a different muscle pattern, and can also relieve you of muscle fatigue if you've been walking a long time facing straight up the hill.
  • Hands can be on your hips, behind your back, or swinging at your sides. They can be straight, slightly bent or very bent.
  • As for the foot strike, if the hill is steep enough, you may find yourself taking each step on the ball of your feet. This is perfectly okay. If you step with flat feet, your Achilles tendon will get more recruitment and a better stretch.
  • If you have quite a ways to walk up the hill, and are really getting exhausted despite a pretty slow pace, then do what's called switchbacks. Instead of walking directly straight up the hill, take an angle, or even walk nearly horizontally. After several to a few dozen yards, switch directions and repeat. You are taking a longer route this way, but the hill's incline effect will be reduced.
  • If you are using a treadmill, do not hold on. As a certified personal trainer, I can't say this enough: Holding onto a treadmill while using the incline setting is totally wrong.
  • If you cannot walk on a treadmill incline without holding on, then lower the hill setting so that you can handle the slope. Or, you can reduce the speed. What usually happens is that people have the treadmill going way too fast. Adjust the settings so that you can walk without holding on.
  • If you continue holding on, then when you walk uphill outdoors, you will be in for a nasty surprise: You'll feel completely unprepared and will become heavily fatigued very quickly.


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