Dr. Steven Rosenberg - Foot Care


If You Exercise, You’re Standing On Your Most Important Assets

Dr. Steven Rosenberg - Monday, May 13 2024

How to incorporate walking into your routine without injuring yourself

As the summer months rapidly approach, it is time to get out and exercise. This is the recipe for improving your overall health. Walking is the easiest and most effective way to exercise today. All one needs is supportive and comfortable footwear and a safe place to walk.

With 26 bones, 35 joints, 19 muscles, and more than 100 ligaments in each foot, this marvelous machine we call our feet takes a tremendous amount beating over a lifetime. If we are nice to them, they will allow us to walk about 7,500 steps per day and if you live to be over 80 years old, that would be approximately 216,262,500 steps in your lifetime or over 115, 000 miles. However, to allow you to walk pain free trying to avoid common soft tissue problems such as plantar fasciitis, arch cramps, heel spurs and shin splints in your foot and lower legs is necessary.

Benefits of Walking

1. It improves your circulatory system, veins, arteries, and lymphatic drainage and improves heart health.

Since there are several surfaces available to walk on, keep in mind that some are better than others. The beach, hard dirt pathways, grass, synthetic walking tracks, asphalt, and sidewalks are your options. The less impact load and stress your body will have to deal with from these surfaces the happier your body will be. If possible, always opt for the softer surface’s ones first. When walking on the beach barefoot or with footwear be aware not to walk at the shoreline unless it is flat and not angled. Walking at an angle can cause hip and back discomfort because one leg will be higher than the other due to the slant that is created at the shoreline. A tip is to walk back the same way that you started to balance your body bio-mechanics out. Walking in the soft sand is a great workout because of the resistance it creates and its flat.

2. Strengthens your bones and slows down bone loss, especially if you have osteoporosis issues.

I always recommend walking for at least 30-45 minutes on harder surfaces such as synthetic walking tracks, hard dirt, sidewalks, and asphalt in this case. It is my opinion wearing footwear such as running shoes or specifically designed walking shoes are always safe. They are specifically designed to absorb the stress, load, and shock your body endures with each step. Making sure you have the proper arch support in your shoes is equally important and it will aid in preventing injuries to your feet and lower legs such as plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Orthotics, whether custom made by a foot specialist or over the counter ones are also important and provide additional arch support that the footwear does not. They improve postural stability and spinal alignment allowing your feet to adapt to diverse types of walking surfaces. Having the proper foot support helps to provide a ridged lever for pushing off with each step. If they are too bulky and cause your feet to feel cramped, then remove the insole that comes with the shoe and just use the arch support. Make sure you do not lace your shoes too tightly for it may cause numbness, tingling or redness on the top of your foot. The front part of the shoe should be flexible to allow your foot to flex at the ball of your foot. If the shoe fits wear it, too small will cause cramps in your toes and arches, toenail problems as well as corns on the top of your toes. Too big allows your foot to move too much in the shoe causing blisters, calluses, and the bottoms of your feet to burn due to increased friction.

3. Brisk walking suppresses your appetite, burns off body fat, relieves anxiety, depression, work burnout, allows you to think more clearly and improves your sleep quality.

I always recommend that you stretch before and after you walk. In every physical activity you perform such as walking or running, your muscles are under more stress than what you do normally during your daily routine. Stretching your upper and lower leg muscles lengthens and loosens them, so that when you begin your workout, they are less likely to be injured.

I suggest doing 5 repetitions of each stretch and holding the stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of 30 seconds. Stretch each muscle group in your thigh, both the hamstrings and quadriceps. The easiest way to stretch the hamstrings is to keep your legs straight bend over and try to touch your toes. The calf, which has 2 muscle groups gastrocnemius / soleus. The calf stretch requires you to find a pole, wall, or tree before you start and push against it. To stretch both muscle groups in the calf. First place one foot in front of the other, the back foot should be firmly on the ground and the leg straight then push and hold. The second part of the stretch is to bend that knee and hold the stretch too. Once you stretch one leg switch and stretch the other. The Stretch should not be “ballistic” or “bouncy” because this will keep the muscle groups in a contracted state.

Every day you walk you will get one step closer to improving your overall health and getting a better night’s sleep.