​We all learnt how to walk as children, but it turns out it’s not quite as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. In fact, there are some mistakes that you might be making while out on your #walktowellbeing without even realising, which could be having an impact on your overall physical health. From wearing the wrong shoes to straining your neck and shoulders, these are some of the most common errors and how to correct them, so you can stay motivated to keep up your step count.

You’re wearing the wrong clothes

“Wearing layers of clothes that are suitable for the weather conditions are key so you are warm enough and can take off a layer if you get hot,” says Amanda Harris MCSP, physiotherapist from The Physio Company (thepysiocompany.co.uk). “Clothing made of natural fibres, such as cotton or bamboo, are better. Check the weather forecast before going out so that you are armed with waterproofs, should you need them. Wearing leggings is probably better than jeans as they dry quicker if you get wet and it is easier to move in them. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen if it’s sunny.”

You’re wearing the wrong type of shoes

“Wearing the wrong shoes can quickly cause tension and pain in your feet, ankles, and calves, and can even cause plantar fasciitis in the long term,” says Deanna HammondBlackburn, qualified personal trainer from OriGym Centre of Excellence (origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk). “To make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during walks, go to a specialised athletic shoe shop that can help fit the right type of shoe and address any issues, such as overpronation. Otherwise, make sure you’re wearing the right size trainers, preferably a pair that have been worn in and are comfortable, with proper arch support: this will reduce aches and pains.”

You’re taking steps that are too wide

“Overstriding or taking too wide steps while walking is something that can cause both short and long term issues,” says Deanna. “In the short-term, this mistake, which can be easily corrected, can cause instability, and, in the long-term, this issue can cause serious pain in your legs. To correct this problem, take shorter and quicker steps, rolling through your feet and then pushing off for increased spring. Keeping your steps shorter when you‘re walking will keep your spine aligned and will ensure your walk won’t become painful.”

You don’t know your route

“Not knowing exactly where you’re walking can be risky: there’s a chance you could get lost, or walk too far and face exhaustion,” Deanna explains. “It’s best to map out your route beforehand so you know exactly where you’re going. If you’re walking a long distance in an area with little to no phone signal it is also a good idea to take a map with you in case your phone dies!”

You’re walking flat-footed

“Walking flat-footed can be identified as a problem if you find that your feet slap on the floor as you walk, or if you have regular pain in your shins,” says Deanna. “If this happens then it may be time to invest in some shoes or trainers specifically designed for flat feet. Another option is to do regular exercises that focus on strengthening the shins, ankles, and lower legs. Common exercises such as heel stretches, calf raises, and toe raises can all help correct this problem.”

You’re walking with your feet down

“This can be a default posture for many of us during our walk or runs,” says Natalie. “This is because a lot of us spend time at a desk or WFH and this forces the shoulders to hunch slightly forward. It may also be a confidence thing, looking at the floor to ensure you are not stepping on anything. However, this is having a negative effect on your posture. You want to look straight ahead, around five to 10ft in front of you, with your shoulders back and core engaged. This will not only help to improve your posture and core strength, but also allow you to increase your speed and stamina by walking correctly. Win-win!”

You’re not using your arms enough

“When walking, your arms naturally swing forward and back,” says Natalie Rose Edwards, live trainer for fitness and wellbeing app, openfit.com. “We never hold our arms straight or hold tension in them naturally, and it is exactly the same during a walk or run. Let your arms swing with about a 90-degree bend in the elbow, forward and back. Your arms should never cross your midline, so imagine you are wearing a jacket with a zipper in the midline. It‘s useful to shake out your hands from time to time as a reminder to not hold tension there.”

You’re not drinking enough water

“This is a common mistake made by all of us,” says Natalie. “It can be easy to forget. However, remember our body is made up of 60 percent water. And water is needed to maintain a healthy weight, keep you hydrated and flush toxins out of the body. A good tip is to always start the day with a glass of water! Invest in a good water bottle to keep you accountable. During exercise our body needs more water so ensure you are staying hydrated before, during and after your walk.”