Walking Safely for a Cure

There are many walking fundraiser events these days that truly tests a person's endurance. The Houston area hosts several of these events every year. One of the most popular examples is the two and three day breast cancer walks in which you can walk the distance of almost two marathons. The way most of these events work is you walk all day, sleep in a tent overnight, and then get up the next morning to keep walking. While causes like breast cancer really strike a cord with people there are a couple of things that people must keep into consideration when taking on a challenge like this so that they can prevent getting hurt.

1. Listen to your body, not your mind:
Many times when people are walking or running for a cause they get very emotionally involved in their drive to finish the race. It is important to listen to your body. If it hurts, stop!! Just because you don't finish a race or event does not mean you are letting someone down or that you don't care about the cause.

2. Just because you are a runner doesn't mean you are a walker:
There are many runners out there who attempt to do one of these long walks and find themselves more sore then after they run - this is natural. Walking uses different muscles than running, so it is like your body is starting a new exercise routine that it is not used to.

3. Don't be afraid to stop for aid:
At all of these events there are always medical and podiatry tents to care for race-day injuries. One of the most common injuries seen when walking long distances is blisters. If you stop at a podiatry tent, there are many trained medical volunteers who are there to help drain your blisters and bandage you up so that the rest of your race will be more comfortable. It also prevents further trauma that can cause infection.

Walking for a cure is one of the most emotionally gratifying things you can do. Just make sure that if you attempt a walk with a distance longer than you're used to that you know what to expect. Listening to your body and stopping for help if you need it, even if you are an experienced runner, should not be a blow to your athletic psyche.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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