How can I avoid injuries when walking?

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Walking is very low impact so thankfully injuries should not occur often. Here are some suggestions to help prevent any injury:

  • Wear comfortable supportive shoes
  • Be sure to stretch before and after
  • Bring a water bottle or make sure you are hydrated

Most of all, HAVE FUN!!!

Two big culprits of pain when walking is that the foot is not loading and unloading properly when striking the ground, and that the hip complex has inadequate flexibility/mobility. The following quick movement below will place you in the walking position, and will help mobilize the foot and hip appropriately for the task of walking.

Step1: Stand in a staggered stance that mimics your walking posture. The width between your feet will be based on your ability. (wide=more balance - narrow=less balance)

Step2: We will assume right foot is forward, begin by statically lunging forward while swinging your left arm straight forward, while swinging right arm straight back for 12-15 reps. (This arm swinging action just exaggerates your natural arm swing pattern when walking.)

Step3: Next, while statically lunging forward swing the left arm towards the right of your body, passing the midline of body, while your right arm swings behind your body to the left for 12-15reps. (This swinging action creates a rotational component. You will feel your spine rotating more.)

Step4: Last, while statically lunging forward swing your right arm up overhead laterally to the left, while left arm simply drops to down your left side for 12-15reps. (This swinging action creates a lateral component. You will feel your spine bending to the left, and your right hip sliding to the right.)

Repeat with left foot forward, utilizing the same strategies.

Possible Progression: If you are in a narrow static stance and demonstrating good control you can progress to a dynamic lunge instead. The arm swinging strategies stay the same, but you would add an anterior lunge with the swinging pattern, return to 2 feet together and proceed to lunge for next rep.

All ways warm up first with some active stretching. Start with rolling your feet in both directions then pull your toes up towards you and then point. Next do some knee hugs, bring your knee up to your tummy and hold for a second, release and go to the other side. Swing your arms over your head like you're doing the back stroke to get your circulation going. 1-2 sets and 15 reps on both sides of your body.

Posture is always important in everything you do so keep mindful of it. Chin is down, head back with ears in alignment with your shoulders, shoulder blades are down, hips in a neutral position with belly button drawn in to you spine, knees and toes in alignment with hip bones and toes are always pointed straight ahead at 12 o’clock.

Start your walk out at the low end of target zone for 5 minutes and pick up your pass to a nice brisk walk and end with a cool down pace to bring your heart rate back down.

Keep mindful of your surroundings and adjust for the terrain. Enjoy your walk. Breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sunshine and smile. Life is good.

Joy Larison
Fitness

I love to walk, and so I have had my fair share of injuries from walking. My biggest complaint is wearing shoes that don't fit properly, or are too old to support you. I have found shin splints are a painful result of improper shoes and technique. Make sure when you are walking that your heel hits the ground and your foot rolls to your toes. If you find your feet "flapping" the pavement, slow down and pay attention to your foot strike. Also, adjusting the lacings on your shoes is important to a proper fit. I suggest you invest the time visiting a shoe establishment that can measure you for fit and recommend a shoe that will keep you supported while you walk.

Enjoy!

Walking is easier on the joints than high impact activities such as running. But, some muscles can suffer from over use. Beware of shin splints and heel pain. If you are adding on mileage, speed or hills a good rule to follow is to add 10 % each week.  Include cross training in your routine by adding in strength training and stretching. Strengthen the ankles with toes raises and weight train with light weight to increase range of motion. Yoga or stretching will reduce muscle tightness and improve posture. Use a foam roller to release tight muscles. It may be used on major muscle groups such as the calves, the quadriceps, back and the illotibial band. Stretch after a walking warm up to help prevent injury. Stretches may be done after warming up for 10-15 minutes. Hold stretch for 15-30 seconds.

A healthy body weight will relieve stress on the knees. Wear good shoes that are well cushioned for your activity, foot type and walking gait. Socks should be thick and absorb moisture. Choose shoes that are flexible and stable so your body weight can move from heel to toe in a natural rolling motion. Check your shoes for worn areas that will put your body out of alignment. A running store specialist can assist you in this area. When walking wear layers that are easily removed if you get to warm and always hydrate before, during and after your walk. Wear sunscreen and a hat.  Assess your form and technique and make adjustments to stay injury free. Your shoulders should be squared not forward. Keep the pelvis tucked and knees slightly bent. Blisters caused by shoes and socks may be prevented by covering the area with a bandage. The surface can impact your bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. A flat, firm surface is best; if possible walk on grass, wood chips, or a track. If possible avoid concrete, it is the hardest surface and may cause stress fractures. Hills can add stress to your joints. For rocky terrain wear a good pair of hiking boots.

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.