Prevent Foot Problems When Walking

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National campaigns, health practitioners and even major corporations are encouraging Americans to walk longer. Unfortunately, many sedentary individuals who start walking programs quickly develop foot issues. Almost sixty million Americans have foot problems and many grow them after starting a new exercise regimen. A foot injury can take weeks, even months to heal and many will gain more weight during this healing period. Preventing these issues through education will keep Americans walking.

1. Purchase a shoe made for walking. Make sure that the shoe has sufficient stability and support. If you can fold the shoe in half, it’s too flexible. Make sure that the shoe has enough space at the feet and is fitted nicely at the heel.
2. Start on flat surfaces. Don’t start a walking program walking on hills or stairs.
3. Start with a brief distance. Stick with that distance for a week. If you are pain free and injury free, increase the distance that the next week.
4. Start with an easy pace. Increase your pace gradually.
5. Choose soft surfaces. Walking on a track or a trail will decrease the impact on your toes and legs. Cement can be a particularly hard surface to walk on.
6. Limit your time on the treadmill. Treadmills can result in the development of foot issues. Start with the treadmill flat and at a slow pace. Gradually increase your pace each week. Increase the incline after you have reached a comfortable pace.
7. Stop if you feel foot or ankle pain. Don’t attempt to walk through the pain.
8. Examine your feet. Look areas of rub or irritation the first couple weeks of your walking program and then again after attempting new socks or shoes. Moleskin can be placed on areas of irritation to help decrease friction. Don’t use bandaids on such areas.
9. Consider wearing orthotics. Individuals with flat feet may need inserts for their sneakers. When buying inserts, start looking for game othotics, as opposed to cushioned insoles. A more rigid insert provides additional support. Custom made orthotics can be made by a podiatrist if necessary.
10. Avoid cotton socks. Synthetic socks decrease friction, prevent excess rubbing and do not absorb moisture. Your local running shop or sports shop should carry a variety of new high tech socks for walking.

Consult your podiatrist if you start to come up with pain when walking, or consider a visit before embarking on your new walking program.