Walking is a great way to ease yourself back into shape, but it is important to walk safely!
Pain is your body signalling you that something is wrong. This means it is important to pay attention to your pain level. If you have introduced walking to your everyday lifestyle, once you start feeling pain, this is when your body is starting to reach its limit. The stronger your muscles get, you'll be able to take away strain from your joints, especially in arthritis. It is important to manage your pain levels if you are experiencing chronic or constant pain. A few tips when slowly introducing walking to your exercise plan include:
1. As nice as it may be to stroll on the beach, remember that every step you take in one direction, you will have to take that step on the way back. When you first start walking, it is recommended to walk around your neighborhood or circular paths until you know what your limits are.
2. Concrete does not have a lot of give to it, so this can be difficult on your joints at first. If you are walking on a trail, do not hesitate to start on the grass as it will be easier on these joints.
3. If you will be walking or jogging around your neighborhood, the asphalt road is actually better than the concrete sidewalks.
4. When running on the road, be sure to watch for traffic, and walk on the correct side of the road which is in opposition of traffic. Be sure to wear bright clothing so you are easy to see to drivers.
5. Make sure you are wearing proper sneakers for your feet, and don't be afraid to remove the sole and replace with a new in sole, even if it is not a custom orthotic. Ask your physical therapist for the recommended in sole.
6. If you have chronic knee or hip pain, you may want to speak to your doctor and/or physical therapist about wearing a brace while you walk for increased support.
If you have developed extreme pain from walking or other exercise or do not have the ability to start a walking program, physical therapy is a great way to ease your way back into a walking program.
Fyzical offers an anti-gravity treadmill called the AlterG, which can customize how much weight and strain you are putting on your joints. As you become more comfortable walking at a specific level, the machine gives you the ability to increase your level and slowly introduce your joints to a 100% walking program. The benefit of being able to work your joints to their full potential is that the repetitive motion provides synovial lubricate to your joints, which makes not just your joints feel better, but your whole body. (Image from AlterG website)