Active Seniors

Why does museum walking hurt more than standard walking?

A common complaint among people is that they are often ok when they are walking continuously, however in a situation where they are required to walk slowly and regularly stop and start walking (such as in a museum) they struggle with discomfort and fatigue. There are a few fundamental reasons for this.

Physical Effort

First and foremost it comes down to the physical effort of the task. While it may seem as though walking continuously at a reasonable pace would require more physical effort, this task has a few unique advantages that make it less demanding than museum walking. You see when you walk continuously you generate momentum which is easy to maintain with minimal effort. It is much more difficult to constantly change momentum. When museum walking, there is the need to constantly change momentum from standing still to moving and then again to stopping.

One of the factors responsible for this advantage is the length tension relationship that occurs during walking. As one leg moves back, the muscle on the front of the thigh is stretched and energy is stored within the muscle that helps to swing the leg back to the front of the body during the next step. When we walk in a stop and start fashion, we fail to use the energy stored from the muscle stretch.

Standing Postures

One of the other reasons that people often find museum walking more uncomfortable than continuous walking is due to the awkward standing postures that people often adopt as they stop to appreciate a piece. Often body weight is not distributed evenly, and if viewing is obstructed further alterations to body position need to be made that can create significant postural load.

Try this

To test out the effects of tension on the ease and efficiency of movement, stand up as tall as you can and bring the leg behind you touching the ground with your toe. Return your leg to the starting position and note the ease of this movement. Repeat this a couple of times. Now try the same leg movement with your head forward and notice the difference. With an upright posture you are able to maintain tension and hence the movement is easier. When you bring your head forward you lose tension in the body and as a result the leg doesn’t feel quite as light.

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