Why Should I Be Walking? Top Tips on How to Walk Without Causing Injuries to Your Calves and Achilles

Walking

Walking

Walking is one of the most overlooked forms of exercise. It’s simple, free, and one of the best ways to get more active and lose weight without too much effort.

With the weather improving and restrictions easing, more and more people are out walking. So we’ve created a list of top tips to help protect your Calves and Achilles tendon from extensive walking. Tips you can use at home to prevent injuries like a sprained ankle, whilst you are getting outside and enjoying the sunshine… as well as covering the benefits walking brings.

All our little health secrets are great for anyone, but they are essential for anyone aged 50+, especially for those that are looking to get more active now that Summer is here.


The Benefits of Walking

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise as it’s free and easy to fit into your everyday routine. It also has some amazing benefits.

  • Burns calories – Burning calories is essential for weight loss, which is what makes walking (especially brisk walking) such a great and easy way to get more active. Your calorie burn will depend on several factors, including walking speed, the distance you cover, your weight, and the terrain you’re walking on (uphill are better than flat tarmac if you want to exercise different muscle groups, such as your calves and hamstrings!).
  • Strengthen the heart – Walking for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 19%. This risk will reduce even more when you increase how long you walk for, and the distance you cover each day.
  • Eases joint pain – Walking strengthens the muscles that support your vital joints, it also provides benefits to people who are particularly suffering from arthritis as it reduces pain through lubricating the joint through muscles.
  • Boosts immune function and energy – Walking can help reduce your risk of developing a cold or flu as it helps to boost your immune system. People who walk, on average, have 43% fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections, and if you do get sick, your symptoms are often lessened. Going for a walk when you’re tired, rather than grabbing a cup of coffee, can be more effective in boosting your energy levels, as it increases oxygen flow throughout your body and increases ‘feel-good’ endorphins.
  • Improves your mood – Walking is a great way to improve your mental health as it can reduce anxiety, depression, and overall negative outlook. It also helps boost your self-esteem, which is great for confidence and an overall great mood.
  • Extend your life – Yes, that’s right! Walking at an average pace compared to a slower, dawdling pace, reduces the risk of early death by 20%. This is due to increased cardiovascular health as you’re keeping active.

How to Protect Your Calves and Achilles

Protecting your Calves and Achilles is essential to keep you walking, but they’re also some of the most common places for walking injuries to occur. Your best chances of reducing painful injuries in the Achilles tendon and Calves are by:

  • Warming up correctly for at least 20 minutes, you can do this by stretching.
  • Following cool-down stretches correctly, this recovery period helps your muscles acclimate after exercise.
  • Make sure you’re eating and drinking the correct amount, when your body is short of healthy fuel, fatigue can set in, which often causes cramps (which can lead to more drastic injuries!)

What to Bring on Your Walk in the Arizona Heat

The Arizona weather is no joke, especially when doing activities outside. Even if you are just going on a walk you always need to be prepared as the sun will be on constantly. The most important items to bring when going on a walk are:

  • Water or some sort of electrolytes!
  • A light snack
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat or sunglasses, maybe both

By bringing these items you can protect yourself from the heat and enjoy the weather. Drinking lots of water can also prevent any cramping in your calves. You should wear a lightweight t-shirt or tank top along with your most comfortable pair of tennis shoes. You can avoid the hottest part of the day by going on a walk in the morning or late afternoon.


How to Keep Motivated With Walking

Keeping motivated is something that many people struggle with, especially when other tasks take priority, such as jobs around the house or visiting friends and family. But remember you’re still walking whilst doing these activities. Going on walks can also help to tone your leg muscles. Try to aim for 10,000 steps a day to keep your body healthy.

The easiest way to make sure that you’re staying active is to turn walking into a healthy habit, and you can do this by thinking of how you can include walking in your daily routine. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Walk part of your journey to work or to the shops.
  • Try to use the stairs more often, whenever possible.
  • Leave your car behind for short journeys.
  • Walk the kids and grandkids to school, get them involved!
  • Try to catch up with friends through exercise, suggest a walk rather than a trip to the coffee shop.

Tips on How to Walk Without Causing Injuries and Prevent Damage to Your Essential Joints and Muscles…

Aftercare is one of the most important things when it comes to keeping your vital joints and muscles healthier. By following the correct care after a long walk, you can prevent damage that could stop you from enjoying anything. Did you know that walking also decreases the risk of arthritis?

Here are just a few ways you can prevent knee and ankle injuries:

  • Use ice – If you feel that nagging pain beginning, or notice slight swelling in your ankle or knee, make sure to apply ice wrapped in a tea towel 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 natural state.
  • Take it easy – Remember that we’ve been in lockdown for 16 months, your exercise levels may not be what they were 2 years ago. Make sure you take it easy and know your limits!
  • Pick the right shoes – The problem is you’ll never know what’s happening until you see some swelling or feel the heat coming from your knee. I assure you, your knee is under much more added stress if your footwear isn’t protecting it by absorbing some of the shocks from the pavement and keeping it in a steady position. If you notice your feet moving around in your shoes a lot they may be too big for you. This may cause rubbing of the heel and overall foot pain. Having too tight of shoes can cause foot pain. Short term you may get blisters but if you were too tight of shoes, you could develop a bunion. You do not want your feet squeezed into too tight of shoes, which is why you should make sure you are always fitted properly.

The benefits of Orthotics…

Foot orthotics can also be a great option, especially if you’re looking to get more active. Orthotics can benefit everyone. They don’t only help people that go out and exercise. People also wear them to help with their alignment and posture.

Feet are the foundation of your body. If anything is out of sync then it can have a huge impact on your posture, movement, and stability. Wearing custom-made foot orthotics, in many cases, especially if you’re aged 50+, will help you continue to wear your favorite shoes whilst keeping your feet, ankle, and knees protected and allow you to safely remain active.

If you are concerned about joint stiffness or unwanted pain, just follow the link to make a Phone Call or schedule a Discovery Session and let us know more about your concerns.

Click Here To Arrange A FREE Telephone Consultation

 

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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