straightening is often more of a problem early on.
In normal walking or running, the knee is bent so
racewalking is an unnatural action which our bodies
are not used to. Often stretching of the hamstrings
and calf muscles are required to help straightening
because of tightness in the back of the legs. A
good test is to stand sideways to a full length
mirror. Place your feet together and keep them flat
on the floor. Look at your knees when standing.
Are they straight? Lock the knees and let the bones
hold your weight while relaxing the muscles.
shift your weight from one leg to the other by bending
first one knee, then the other. The weight bearing
leg should be straight. You should also see and
feel your hips riding up and down as each knee in
turn bends and straightens. Weakness in the knees
may be a problem in which case some supplemental
strengthening exercises may be needed. Prior knee
injuries may also keep you from full straightening.
In extreme cases, racewalking in competitions may
not be possible although it can still be a good
fitness activity with less than perfect form. If
tightness in the backs of the legs prevents straightening,
try some stretches such as wall pushes for the calfs
and hamstring stretches or back stretches.
walking, there are several other techniques which
contribute to knee straightening and speed.
the normal walking motion by pointing your toe
upward. This forces the knee straighter and starts
the powerful pushing motion which makes for walking
speed. This toe up landing may cause some pain and
stiffness in the lower shin muscles but this will
usually disappear after a few minutes of warmup.
Remember, you are using new muscles and there is
always a break-in period. Lower your toes and resume
normal walking for a few minutes until the stiffness