Walking is a great way to burn calories, strengthen muscles and bones, improve balance, boost mood and help prevent health problems such as heart disease to diabetes). But walking the wrong way can lead to injuries. Use this guide to make you’re striding right. Here are 10 common walking problems and how to fix them.
Wearing the Wrong Shoes
Shoes are among the guiltiest tools of common walking problems. Not all shoes are good for walking. To avoid setting yourself up for plantar fasciitis, muscle pulls and knee problems, consider these tips.
• Cushioning. Walking shoes should be lightweight, while providing comfort and medium cushioning. You don’t need as much cushioning as a runner but your shoes should be supportive and cushioned enough to protect your feet from impact.
• Soles. Walking shoes should have flexible soles so you don’t fight them as your foot rolls through the step.
• Replacement. The cushioning and support in your shoes degrades over time due to wear and tear. You should replace your shoes every 500 miles.
• Size. Your feet swell when you take a long walk. Your walking shoes should be larger than your average shoe size if you walk for 30 minutes or more for exercise.
Walking Too Slowly
Walking is a low impact exercise but walking too slowly is counterproductive. On average, your goal should be four miles per hour for a good pace. Your heart rate should rise slightly; you should be slightly out of breath and feel warm.
Using Poor Technique
Walking is not a difficult activity but technique is important to ensure you are walking properly and effectively.
• Stand tall and do not hunch
• Look straight forward and hold your head high
• Keep your shoulders relaxed but pulled slightly down and back
• Swing your arms in time with your feet but do not clench your fists
• Extend your legs through hips – push backward
• Land on your heels and then roll through and onto your toes
• Keep your midsection lightly engaged always
• Keep your breathing regular and deep
Missing Warm Ups and Post-Workout Cool Down
Warming up before walking helps you have a safe and effective workout. Cooling down after your workout ensures your muscles won’t stiffen up.
Before you head out on your next walk, start slowly and build up gradually. Then complete your walk slowly and spend a few moments stretching your major muscles again.
Following the Same Route at the Same Speed
Change is good. It’s okay to have a favorite walking routine and a comfortable route and pace, but variation of terrain helps muscular reactions. To mix it up, incorporate intervals into your walk, switch speeds and try a different route a few times per week. Adding variety to your daily walks will keep you from hitting a plateau.
Sticking to Treadmills
Walking on a treadmill is a walk to nowhere. While elevations and speed can change, the impact and challenge is different from walking outdoors. Change it up a few times a week and take your workout outdoors on the hills or on a hiking trail.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suspect that you are experiencing any of these common walking problems, consult your doctor to look at your bones via X-ray or MRI. Other tests may also be conducted to isolate the problem.
Dr. Jamshidinia at Century City Medical Plaza is a board-certified foot surgeon trained in all areas of foot and ankle surgery. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. For concerns regarding common foot injuries do not hesitate to contact us today!