Walk further and longer whilst avoiding injury
Walking appears to have become somewhat of a national sport over the past 18 months and for good reason too. Walking is one of the most easiest and often most overlooked forms of exercise with endless health benefits to help you get more active, improve your wellbeing and loose weight.
With restrictions easing further and the weather improving, more and more people are getting out walking; so we’ve created a list of top tips to help protect you from developing some of the common issues we see in the clinic that can arise from extensive walking and getting more active.
Our healthy tips below are great for everyone but are essential reading for anyone looking to get more active and start making memories this summer.
Use these tips below to not only prevent injuries and niggles creeping in but also to get the most out of your walking whilst you are getting outside and enjoying the sunshine:
Build up gradually
Add walking into part of your day, whether it’s choosing to walk to work or on the school run or deciding to take the stairs more often than the lift. Catch up with friends over a takeaway coffee and a walk and leave the car behind for shorter journeys or park further away from your destination to incorporate a short walk into your routine.
As with any form of exercise, no matter how mild, a quick warm up or stretch is always a good idea to prevent niggles occurring. Particularly if you are feeling any kind of stiffness or aches before you begin. Try a few light stretches of the legs and rotations on the lower back before setting off on your walk – our personal favourite is 30 marches on the spot with high knees!
Take it easy
Harborough has some great longer walks but remember that we’ve been in lockdown for nearly 18 months and your exercise levels may not be what they were previously. Make sure you take it easy and know your limits! Take regular pitstops along the way and keep the distance manageable. Plan your route beforehand to avoid unintentionally walking too far.
Find your pace
Inline with the above, make sure that you walk at a comfortable pace for you. Most of us have taken to walking in groups or with a friend (particular when this was our only form of socialising!). Whilst walking with people is great for our mental health, walking at a pace that is either much too quick or too slow for you can have an adverse effect on your physical health and is a quick way to pick up a niggle or too.
Pick the right shoes
As most of our clients report, the problem with walking injuries is that you never usually feel anything at the time of walking – it’s nearly always within a few hours following a walk that swelling and pain occurs. If you aren’t wearing the appropriate footwear to provide the right support, stability and cushioning for your joints; whether you’re walking the canal towpaths or cross country, your feet, legs and back will begin to feel the added stress placed upon them.
If you feel that niggling aches and pains are starting to creep in, or notice slight swelling, make sure your first point of call is to place an ice pack or ice wrapped in a tea towel on the area for 20-minute intervals. This will reduce swelling and tenderness in the area, along with helping the muscles to cool down and return to their normal state.
Remember walking is exercise too
Most of the walking related injuries we’ve been seeing in the clinic on the contrary have been in those who are more active and have increased the amount of walking they do alongside their usual exercise regimes. Remember walking is exercise too and can place an added strain on your body without you realising it if paired with other forms of exercise; particularly if adequate rest and recovery is not had.
Stay hydrated and fuelled
Whilst considered a relatively light form of exercise, walking can be hard work. Particularly in the warmer weather. As you start to get dehydrated or fatigued you will start to compromise your posture and how you walk, putting added demand on your muscles and joints that may easily lead to injury. Make sure that you are staying hydrated and fuelled. Why not even schedule in a pitstop at a cafe or pub along the way.
Seek professional advice
If you do find niggles or swelling occurring after walking that doesn’t seem to settle within a couple of days or keeps reoccurring; it is worth seeking the option of a professional to have an assessment and put a plan in place to prevent minor niggles becoming a more longstanding serious issue.
If you’re in pain and would like to talk to us about getting some help and specialist advice, or if you are looking for a diagnosis, remember our practitioners here at The Injury Clinic are always here to help you.
If you know anyone that the information in this article could help, then please feel free to pass it on and share with your family and friends.