October 12, 2020: What does walking do to your feet?
What happens to your feet when walking?
At Maidenhead Podiatry, our Podiatrists are often asked how walking affects your feet. In an average lifetime, it is estimated that we walk about 100,000 miles/160,000 km.
The ligaments, tendons, and muscles in our feet support and coordinate movement. So walking helps strengthen them and keeps them supple.
Get up and walk!
Even if your job involves sitting in an office or at home, try to get up regularly and take a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Feet are adaptable and will withstand a lot of pressure before they complain. If you enjoy walking, it’s important to wear the right footwear which doesn’t damage your feet.
Walking at a brisk pace for regular exercise helps condition your body and improves overall cardiovascular health. This works in a similar way running and jogging but compared with this high-impact exercise, walking carries a significantly lower risk of injury.
Consult your podiatrist if you start to develop any pain when walking, or consider a visit before embarking on a new walking program.
Properly fitting shoes is the key to keeping your feet healthy and comfortable. Whatever type of walking you do, wearing the right footwear is essential. When buying shoes especially walking shoes, try numerous brands, styles, and sizes. Walking shoes/boots do not come in different width fittings but widths vary with different manufacturers.
Your feet can expand as much as half a size during the day, so buy shoes in the afternoon or early evening when your feet are at their largest. This will help protect them as they expand during your long walks. Also, wearing the same type of socks when fitting shoes that you wear when you walk will help you choose the right shoe.
Once you have made your purchase – take care of them.
Once I have my shoes/boots, what next?
If you are going on a long walk, prepare well ahead. When you first have your shoes/boots wear them around the house. This will keep them clean in case you need to take them back; it also allows you to get used to them on even, consistent surfaces. You can try different socks in the comfort of our own home too.
Wear your shoes for a ‘trial walk’ and build up the distance gradually. Don’t try to complete the Three Peaks on your first trip!
What else can I do?
It’s also a good idea to pay a visit to your local HCPC – registered podiatrist who will be able to give advice. There they will treat any corns, callus, or any foot issue you may have.
Before you set off:
Pack simple first aid supplies, such as plasters or antiseptic cream, for your walking trip in case of accidents
It’s also a good idea to put Vaseline between your toes to prevent chafing. This makes it an ideal lubricant
Applied as a lubricant at the start of an event, such as between the toes, it will still be working well at the end
Begin your walk at a slow pace, increasing the pace of your walking gradually. This gives the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments that support the structure and movement a chance to get used to the activity by degree.
If you do experience any discomfort or foot pain, then it could be an indication that something isn’t right. In many cases, early diagnosis prevents a small injury from becoming a larger one.
Six points to remember
When you buy shoes, wear socks that you will wear when walking
Try on and walk in several pairs of shoes/boots
Don’t just put on but lace both shoes of each pair and take the time to walk around to assess comfort
To keep your feet comfortable and free of fatigue and injury, good foot care is essential
Consult a podiatrist if you experience any sort of foot pain
Go through a warm-up and stretching routine before and after you walk