Racewalking for Fitness

racewalkingDriven to set or break world records? Interested to improve your health? Then try racewalking. After more than three centuries as a sport, and almost a century as a sport widely anticipated in the Olympics, racewalking is becoming more and more popular in the United States and anywhere else in the world. People of all ages, sex, and levels of fitness have come to realize the value of racewalking as an important component of their workout program.

Rules of racewalking

Racewalking is governed by two technical rules. The first rule is what differentiates racewalking from running – racewalkers must maintain contact with the ground at all time. The racewalker’s front foot’s heel must touch the ground before lifting the back toe from the ground. Violation of this first rule is called loss of contact.

The second rule holds that the supporting leg must straighten as soon as the foot touches the ground and remain in this position until the athlete’s body passes over it. This rule differentiates racewalking from traditional form of walking.

Rules in racewalking are judged only by the human eye. In competitive racewalking, certified judges designated on the race course observe the athletes.

A walker is disqualified only when three different judges see a violation of either of the rules. Judging in racewalking events is very controversial at today’s high speeds. Sometimes, racewalkers lose ground contact for milliseconds per stride – high speed films can record this violation, but the human eye cannot.

Benefits of racewalking

Racewalking is a great cardiovascular exercise. In fact, it gives the same cardiovascular benefits you get from running. Racewalkers can walk at the speed they want – maintaining heart rate up to their maximum. A racewalker enjoys some advantages over a runner. Racewalking is a better upper-body training because of the emphasized use of your arms, shoulders, and back.

In addition, racewalking is not as injury prone as running. The fluid and smooth stride allows your body to land with less force – this means less pounding on the back, hips, knees, feet, and legs. What’s more, racewalkers seldom encounter back problems because they have to maintain an erect posture. These benefits attract many runners to try racewalking.

Techniques

Here are some basic tips to help you along with racewalking: Work on shin strength and maintain a straight knee to achieve a good heel strike. Work also on calf strength for that power needed in a strong pushoff.

When you pushoff, your leg is lengthening behind you. As you stride with every step, your hips must rotate forward and backward from your waist. Each hip must drop downward as the unsupported leg swings underneath your body.

Moreover, tuck your elbows in to your waist as they briskly swing. Your rear foot pushoff can be powered by punching forward (but without reaching forward).

Don’t lean backward. The balls of your feet must support your weight. You must not lean from the waist, but from the ankles. Finally, you need to relax and loosen up your shoulders and waist.