Walk this Way: Avoiding Injury during Fitness Walking

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- Walking is something many of us do to try and stay fit. But did you realize if you're not walking right, you might run the risk of an injury?
 
Walking offers us plenty of health benefits from managing conditions like heart disease and diabetes to improving your muscle tone and endurance. And while it may sound strange, you could be walking incorrectly and not even realize it.
 
Walking is something most of us take for granted. It's an easy fitness fit in our busy lives. "I walk all the time. I park super far away at work just so I can walk and then take all the stairs," said Katie Neidecker. She likes to walk and run but knows her activity is not necessarily injury-proof. "I think it's pretty easy to hurt yourself when you're walking or running because I think a lot of people try to do too much too soon."
 
Walking puts forces on your lower extremities. While a brisk walk may make your muscles feel tired, it shouldn't make your joints or feet hurt. Geisinger Podiatrist Ellianne Nasser says for starters, many walkers lack smooth leg motion because they are not rolling their foot from heel to toe. "And that's where sometimes some foot deformities may come into play." 
 
Dr. Nasser says another problem is looking down while walking which leads to slouching. "With slouching comes some back issues. It's really almost like a domino effect then that can lead to some extremity issues and gait problems."
 
Besides keeping your head upright, she recommends keeping your back straight and using your stomach muscles. "If you think more about relaxing your shoulders and standing up tall with your shoulders over your hips, just naturally that will engage your abs."
 
Another thing Dr. Nasser says you should not overlook is to make sure you have the proper footwear. Your walking or running shoe should accommodate the size and motion of your feet.
 
"Whether you're walking a mile or running ten or 15 miles you want to make sure the shoe is built for your biomechanical needs," said Scranton Running Co. Owner/Co-Founder Matthew Byrne.
 
Dr. Nasser recommends getting a new pair of walking or running shoes every 350 to 500 miles. She also says inserts or orthotics can help but make sure you're wearing a neutral sneaker that's not already trying to tilt your foot in or out. 

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