Dr Mark Nelson
Foot & Ankle
Clinic Home Page
Foot Medical Information
Senior Walking Tips
Issued by the Foot Health Foundation of America - a national health
initiative of the American Podiatric Medical Association
|Warm up and cool down.
||Stretching improves circulation and decreases build-up of lactic acid -
the chemical by-product that causes muscles to ache. It also helps alleviate
any muscle stiffness and prevents future muscle strain. As a result, you can
walk further, longer and injury free.
||Before and after walking allow ample time to perform a few simple
movements, stretching the hamstrings, calves, achilles tendons and shins.
|Choose proper footgear.
||Buying shoes is the only real expenditure necessary for walking, so
don't cut corners on your shoe budget; treat your feet well!
||If you experience swelling in your feet, try on athletic shoes in the
afternoon - when your feet are most swollen - to ensure an accurate fit.
Look for a shoe that is stable from side to side; well-cushioned; enables
you to walk smoothly and comfortably; and gives you enough room to wiggle
your toes, yet be snug in the heel. Also, look for shoes that carry the
American Podiatric Medical Association's Seal of Approval.
|Pay attention to your feet.
||Changes and/or pain in the feet and ankles are not normal and could
indicate a serious foot ailment or circulatory problem. Warning:
Self-treatment can turn a minor problem into a major one, making fitness
||Become familiar with your feet and ankles by examining them - before and
after - walking. If you notice red spots, swelling, or other abnormalities,
including numbness, tingling or burning, consult a podiatric physician as
soon as possible.
|Walk on soft ground.
||With age, the natural shock absorbers (or "fat padding") in your feet
deteriorate, as does bone density, particularly in women. These factors
combined make seniors prone to stress fractures. Softer ground is more
foot-friendly, producing less shock than harder surfaces
||If possible, walk on grass or dirt paths that are flat, even and well
|Avoid walking in cold weather.
||Cold weather causes numbness, limiting your ability to detect trauma or
wounds to the feet. It also makes surfaces harder, exerting undue shock on
the feet and ankles.
||Head to the local mall or walk at an indoor track or exercise facility.
|If you have diabetes, use extra precaution
||If you suffer from diabetes, you are prone to infection from even minor
injuries. Many people with diabetes experience a loss of sensation in the
feet, making it difficult to detect injury. Untreated or improper
self-treatment of ailments could lead to serious, permanent damage or
||Check your feet daily for redness, blisters or injury. If you experience
any numbness, tingling or have wounds or abnormalities of any kind, see a
podiatric physician immediately.
||Establishing an exercise program is a huge undertaking, and even the
most minimal injury could "sideline" you for days - even months. Knowing
your limit and exercising with caution can ward off injuries and
||Set appropriate and realistic goals. Pace yourself, choose an activity
you like, increase your exercise program gradually, and pay attention to
what your body, including your feet, tells you. Drink fluids on hot days or
during very strenuous activities, to avoid heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
* The Foot Health Foundation of America recommends that you consult a
primary care and/or podiatric physician before beginning a fitness program,
especially if you are substantially overweight, physically inactive and become
easily fatigued, and/or have a pre-existing foot condition or a family history
of heart disease, poor circulation or diabetes.
Reprinted with permission from the American Podiatric Medical Association
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