Although a generally safe and effective lifelong workout option, walking can sometimes result in injury. Common ailments sustained by avid walkers range from strains and aches, to more debilitating conditions like fractures, muscle tears, and bruising. Some of the most reported conditions include:
- Shin splints
- Runner’s knee
- Stress Fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Tissue inflammations like plantar fasciitis
Regardless of your fitness-walking skill and experience level, consider the following precautions and tips recommended by our experts at UPMC to help you stay on path and prevent injury.
Wear proper shoes.
Walkers should always wear proper footwear. Try to find a shoe with an appropriate fit, level of support, and function for your feet and walking goals. Consider getting sized at your local shoe vendor to ensure the best possible fit.
Keep a healthy pace.
A common discussion in the fitness and medical communities centers on the effectiveness and intensity of walking, especially when compared with running. However, the number of calories burned while walking can quickly equal that of running, particularly when walking for longer periods of time or under challenging conditions or on strenuous paths.
As suggested in our men’s health tips by decades post, your walking pace should cause you to feel winded while speaking.
Always remember to listen to your body, and slow down or speed up only when you feel ready. Walking at a pace that is comfortable for you can keep your workout safe, fun, and effective.
Dress appropriately for weather conditions.
Be sure to check the weather before walking outdoors. In warm and hot conditions:
- Protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen and wearing a hat.
- Carry lots of water to help avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.
- Bring an umbrella in case of unexpected rain.
When walking in the cold:
- Dress in layers.
- Wear winter gear (hat and gloves).
- Be cautious of any ice or snow.
- Remember the sunscreen. You’re susceptible to sunburn any time of year.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Regardless of your chosen walking environment, pay attention to the world around you. Focus on other walkers and the conditions of the roads or trails.
If you choose to listen to music while walking it is recommended that you only use one earphone and keep the volume low enough to hear surrounding sounds.
Seek medical treatment for any injuries you may sustain.
If you become injured with any of the conditions listed above or any others, talk to your doctor or seek emergency treatment you are experiencing severe or persistent discomfort. Your doctor can help ensure that you are exercising appropriately based on your personal health and medical history.
To learn more about walking safety and treatments for injuries, visit UPMC Sports Medicine website or call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678) to make an appointment.