[Solved] Your 10 Biggest Walking Pains, Exercise And Prevention

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Written By Alison

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How To Solve Your 10 Biggest Walking Pains

Walking pains can be rather difficult to deal with. They have the tendency to leave you crippled as you are unable to get on with your work and perform your chores.

More often than not, people fail to realize that even the most innocent foot pain can become chronic, leading to some serious problems.

As per studies, walking pains lead to as many as 250,000 people incurring issues. Sometimes, an old exercise injury also comes to the forefront, thereby aggravating the condition.

There are a lot of problems you will have to deal with if you experience walking pains. You would no longer be able to exercise. The motivation would be lost, and you would end up gaining weight, while your muscle tone would be affected.

You would not be able to do your work with concentration, which would also have a negative effect on your career.

Therefore, to make sure you do not have to be at the receiving end of such problems, it is important to take measures at the right time. We are going to elaborate on some of the most common walking pains along with the treatments that can provide you with relief.

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis Problem

What It Feels Like

This condition often presents as tenderness on the bottom of the foot or in the heel region.

What Is It?

The plantar fascia refers to the tissue band that spans from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. It is a shock absorber and provides support to the arch. When this tissue band is strained, small tears develop and stiffen the tissue. This leads to foot pain.

The area tends to be under a great deal of strain if you pound the pavement and wear hard shoes on concreate floor. This is because not enough space is available for the foot to land.

There is also a chance of inflammation if you bring about any abrupt change in your normal walking routine. Those most susceptible to plantar fasciitis are the ones who have high arches or walk in pronating fashion.

If you experience pain in the arch or heel in the mornings, it should alert you that you probably have plantar fasciitis since the fascia tends to stiffen during the night. If you do not take appropriate measures for the condition, it can lead to the buildup of calcium which, in turn, creates a bony growth around the heel, which is a condition called heel spur.

What to Do About It

When you first experience stiffness in the bottom of your foot, you need to adopt a routine that would loosen the tissue. Sit with the ankle of the affected foot across the opposite thigh and pull the toe toward your shin using your hand. Continue to do so till you feel a stretch in the arch. Now, run the opposite hand along the sole of the foot where you would feel a stiff band of tissue. Perform this stretch for around 10 times, ensuring that you hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds. Once you are done, massage your foot after standing by rolling it on a bottle or ball.

To get relief from pain, you need to wear supportive shoes that have a contoured foot bed. The walking shoes you use should not be too flexible in the middle. They should be such that they bend at the ball while providing the required support and stiffness at the arch. You can also opt for custom shoes which would ensure that the impact of walking, particularly on hard surfaces, is absorbed.

Till you experience no pain while walking, try to make sure you walk on flat and stable paths, avoiding uneven ground and pavement which can lead to extensive flexing at the arch.

In case you feel that things are getting worse, it would be a good idea to ask your podiatrist to prescribe you a night splint to provide stability to your foot in a slightly flexed position, thereby preventing the tightening of tissue bands that tend to occur while you sleep.

2. Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown Toenail Problem

What It Feels Like

An ingrown toenail tends to present itself as soreness or swelling on the side of the toe.

What Is It?

When the corners of the toenails grow sideways, toe pain is experienced. This is because pressure is exerted on the surrounding soft tissues. The nails can also grow into the skin.

The risk of developing ingrown toenails increases if your shoes are too tight or short. This leads to repeated trauma while walking. If the excess pressure is exerted for long durations such as when you go on a hike or long walks, bleeding can also occur and at times, the toenail might even fall off.

What to Do About It

It is important to have some room in your shoes. Therefore, when you purchase sneakers, you need to opt for a half size up. This would help since feet tend to swell when you exercise. You should also make sure that the toenails are cut across instead of rounding the corners using toenail clippers.

The problem can also occur if people over-pronate while walking. Therefore, inserts should be used which would reduce pronation.

If you have any medical condition such as diabetes or any circulatory disorder, make sure that you get your ingrown toenails treated by a podiatrist.

3. Bunion

How To Solve Bunion Problem

What It Feels Like

If you feel pain on the side of the big toe, it should alert you that you probably have bunion.

What Is It?

When the joint bones on the outer side of the little or big toe are misaligned, a painful swelling develops which is referred to as bunion. People prone to developing the condition include those who have low arches, flat feet or arthritis.

What to Do About It

To deal with bunion, you need to wear wide shoes, particularly those that are wide in the toe box. You can also stretch your old shoes if the idea of purchasing new ones does not appeal to you.

You can also acquire relief by cushioning the bunion via an OTC pad and icing it for as much as 20 minutes. This will numb the area. Some physical therapy treatments can also help reduce inflammation. In some severe cases, surgery might be required so that the bony protrusion can be removed and the toe joint realigned.

4. Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis Problem

What It Feels Like

In this condition, you will experience pain in the lower calf and back of heel.

What Is It?

The Achilles tendon forms the connection between your calf muscle and heel. It can become irritated if you walk too much, especially if you are not prepared for it.

The tendon can also be strained if the foot is subjected to repeated straining as you walk up and down the steep hill or walk on uneven terrains, leading to pain in the lower leg region.

What to Do About It

In mild cases, it is sufficient if you walk less. You can also look for substitutes of non-weight bearing activities such as swimming. Upper body strength training is also an option, but it should be such that the pain is not aggravated. You should also refrain from walking uphill as this stretches the tendon even more, thereby irritating it and making it weaker. Achilles tendinitis can also be prevented if one performs calf stretches regularly.

In some severe cases, walking needs to be limited. You also need to apply cold packs to the area affected for around 15 to 20 minutes, at least 3 to 4 times a day, which would reduce pain and inflammation.

When you resume walking, try to make sure that you restrict yourself to flat surfaces so that your feet can remain in the neutral position. The distance and intensity should be increased gradually.

5. Lumbar Strain

Back Pain

What It Feels Like

In this condition, you would experience pain in the mid and lower back.

What Is It?

Walking usually does not result in lower back pain, but with repetitive movement, there is a chance that the lower back injury worsens.

It seems to be rather easy for one to exert their back if the tendons and ligaments present around the spine are overworked. If there is inflammation of surrounding nerves or arthritis, pain can be felt in the region.

What to Do About It

The muscles in the trunk need to be kept strong if you want to prevent back pain. It would be a good idea to engage your abs while walking. This can be done by pulling the belly button toward the spine. Bending over at the waist should be avoided, which people often tend to do when they are walking at a rapid pace or uphill. It is advisable to make sure that your spine is elongated and the whole body is leaned forward from the ankles.

You can also make use of a short pull exercise to prevent slumping as it realigns your posture. This can be done even while you are walking. All that you would need to do is cross your arms at the wrist in front of your waist and raise your arms like you are trying to pull a shirt over your head. Gradually allow yourself to stretch and then lower your arms while time letting your shoulders drop into place.

Postural distortions can also be caused by hip flexors and tight hamstrings as they exert pressure on the lower back region, so it is important to keep these areas flexed as well.

6. Neuroma

Foot Pain

What It Feels Like

If you have neuroma, you would experience pain in the ball of foot or between toes.

What Is It?

When the tissue surrounding a nerve present near the toe thickens, it can lead to tingling and numbness. Pain can also be experienced which is radiated to the surrounding areas. You might feel like treading on marbles.

Also known as Morton’s neuroma, this condition develops between the third and fourth toes. This condition is found to be more common in women as compared to men.

This is because women have a different structure as compared to men and tend to wear high shoes or very flat ones which can cause irritation.

What to Do About It

The treatment depends on the severity of the condition. In some cases, wearing roomy shoes might suffice, while others may have to be treated with surgery. When you notice the first sign of foot pain, consult a podiatrist at the earliest. This is important as the condition can worsen rather quickly.

It is important to make sure your walking shoes are provided with a spacious toe box and the times you wear heels should be limited. It would be a good idea to travel wearing comfortable shoes such as ballet flats and switching to stylish heels when you reach your destination. Relief can also be acquired via OTC insoles and pads as they relieve the pressure and absorb shock.

7. Shin Splints

How To Get Rid Of Foot Pain

What It Feels Like

This condition presents as soreness or stiffness in the shins.

What Is It?

As you exercise, your shins are forced to support six times your weight. Therefore, the activities involving foot pounding such as walking and running can cause problems in the muscles and surrounding tissues, thereby leading to inflammation. The pain occurs as the strong calves pull on the weak muscles near the shin.

People likely to develop this condition include those who walk too much without any rest or who have rapid pace.

Those who tend to go uphill frequently are also at an increased risk of developing this condition. This is because their feet are required to flex more on every step, straining the shin muscles.

Inflammation can also occur if too many hours are spent walking on concreate. If you experience severe pain in the shin, it might be due to a stress fracture of the tibia.

What to Do About It

To deal with this condition, you will have to restrict walking activities for around three to eight weeks so that your tissues get the time to heal. If you experience pain on walking, it would be better to avoid it. You might also have to make use of anti-inflammatory medication. Cold packs might have to be applied to deal with the swelling and to alleviate the pain.

During this time, you can stay fit by cross-training with exercises that have low impact such as cycling and swimming. It is also advisable to strengthen the muscles in the front of your lower leg so that recurrence can be prevented.

A simple exercise can make things easier for you. As you stand, lift your toes toward your shins around 20 times. Perform three sets of this routine and once you get stronger, put some ankle weight of around 2 to 3 pounds across your toes to create some resistance.

Once you are prepared to resume walking, opt for a dirt path and walk on it for around 20 minutes, keeping your pace moderate. The distance and speed should be increased gradually every week. If you start to experience soreness in the shins, take a rest for a day or two and when you resume walking, take it slowly as compared to before.

8. Bursitis

Bursitis Pain

What It Feels Like

In this condition, the outside of your hips is affected as you experience soreness in the region.

What Is It?

There are quite a few causes of hip pain. One of the common causes is inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs called bursae that cushion the hip joint. This happens owing to repetitive stress.

People who have one leg longer as compared to the other are more prone to develop this condition. If you do not warm up before walking for long durations, this condition can occur as well.

What to Do About It

For a few weeks, walking should be avoided. You should instead opt for some other non-weight bearing activity such as swimming or riding a stationary bike. You can also opt for over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to acquire relief from the discomfort.

As you resume walking, take it slowly and gradually. In the beginning, it would be a good idea to walk on alternate days. The first five minutes should be spent on warming up which is done by walking slowly. Similarly, during the last five minutes, you should walk at a slow pace.

In some severe cases, one might need to make use of a cane or crutches to alleviate the pressure.

9. Runner’s Knee

Knee Pain

What It Feels Like

In this condition, you would experience throbbing in front of your kneecap.

What Is It?

When your shoe strikes the ground, an impact is felt by the knee and there might come a time when your kneecap rubs against your femur which is the bone that connects the knee to the hip. This leads to damage to the cartilage and tendinitis.

Those with a misaligned kneecap, weak thigh muscles and previous injury on the area are prone to develop this condition. People with flat feet and soft knee cartilage are also at an increased risk. Those who walk too much can also incur the condition.

The pain is usually experienced while you walk downhill, perform knee bends or sit for a long duration.

What to Do About It

Till the knee pain subsides, it is advisable to opt for some other type of exercise for around 8 to 12 weeks should be taken. During this time, you need to work to realign the kneecap and build muscles so that the knee can be well supported. You can do some quad strengtheners for this purpose.

You will need to sit with your back against the wall and bend the right leg with the foot flat on the floor. The left leg should be straight in front of you. Now, the quads have to be contracted and the left leg lifted, while the foot remains flexed. This should be repeated at least 12 times, and three sets for each leg should be performed.

When you stand, place a looped band around both the feet and sidestep around 12 to 15 times to the right and then to the left.

While walking, smaller steps should be taken and it should be ensured that the knees do not bend too much. Try to walk sideways such that your side hip muscles can get some workout.

10. Stress Fracture

Stress Fracture Pain

What It Feels Like

In this condition, acute pain is experienced in the foot and lower leg.

What Is It?

You should suspect the condition if you experience pain or tenderness in any specific area of your foot or lower leg. Stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone and tends to occur in the lower leg commonly. When the leg muscles are subjected to repetitive stress, the condition occurs as the shock absorption is done by bones instead of muscles.

If you ignore a shin splints, the condition can develop. Also, if you walk for a long duration without any warmup, you might develop the condition. Women are more susceptible to it as they have lower muscle mass and bone density.

What to Do About It

Take some rest and give your foot some time to heal. This might take several weeks. Avoid walking and opt for other exercises such as swimming, upper body weight training and water aerobics. When you resume your old routine, you should stop at the first sign of discomfort. For instance, if you experience symptoms by walking a mile, slow down and reduce the walking by about a quarter mile. Build up to your normal distance gradually.

The walking shoes should be replaced once you notice that the interior cushioning has worn out so that adequate shock absorption can be ensured.

Bone health needs to be optimized for which lower body strength training should be done at least twice a week. It would also be a good idea to eat calcium-rich food items or, if required, take a supplement.

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