Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, offering a host of potential mental and physical health benefits. It’s easy and – other than the cost of a good pair of walking shoes – free.
Unfortunately, pain in one of the many joints, muscles, and tendons involved in walking can sidetrack even the most determined walker’s routine. A sore back, aching knees, stiff hip, tender ankle, or throbbing toe can make taking a stroll difficult. Fortunately, most common injuries are treatable.
GETTING A LEG UP ON COMMON INJURIES
Here are some injuries and conditions that may have an impact on your ability to walk comfortably:
- Shin splints: Common in new walkers, shin splints is pain in the lower leg. It may be causes by overstriding or wearing heels that are too high.
- Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis can cause severe pain and occurs when the tissue connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes becomes inflames. Walkers who exhibit over-pronantion (rolling the food inward excessively with each step) may be prone to this condition.
- Achilles tendon injuries: The Achilles tendon – the thick tendon that connects the heel and food to the back of the calf muscles – can become inflamed or even rupture due to repetitive stress, an accident or injury, or improper footwear.
- Knee and hip pain: pain in the knees and/or hips may be the result or arthritis, an accident or injury, inflammation or misalignment of the joints.
- Foot pain: Bunions, toe fractures, or ill-fitting shoes can contribute to aching feet.
THESE BOOTS AREN’T MADE FOR WALKING
One of the simplest ways to prevent walking injuries is to wear comfortable, sturdy shoes that have a low heel and flexible sole. Avoid high heels and shoes that are too tight, too loose, or are old and have lost their inner support.
- Stretch your calves and shins before you start your walk.
- State off slowly and increase walking speed gradually.
- Watch out for cracks, uneven areas, or other obstacles on the sidewalk or walking path.
- Be aware of your surroundings and don’t wear headphones (they can block out the sound of approaching traffic or bicyclists).
- Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Stay hydrated.
- Walk in a safe place, preferably with a walking partner (or take the dog along for company).
WHEN PAIN INTERFERES
If pain in your joins, legs, or feet keeps you from walking, an orthopedic examination at The Bone and Join Destination center can help you find the underlying cause and determine whether a medical or surgical solution is appropriate. A physical therapist can also assess your gait (the way you walk) to see if there are muscular weaknesses that can be corrected through exercise and physical therapy. To learn more or make an appointment, call 575-736-8106.