Today is National Walk to Work Day, a day on which we are supposed to step away from the wheel and use our feet to get into the office (if possible). The rewards are numerous: We’ll save on gas and pollution and show ourselves that walking is doable. Walking to work even one day a week is a great part of a fitness plan for individuals of all athletic abilities.

Two days ago, we marked the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day; they encourage people to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, either in one large chunk (like walking to work) or broken up into three 10-minute increments. According to the AHA, following that kind of stay-active plan will improve your physical and mental wellness, boost your immunity and reduce your risk factors for heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels.

For most people, walking is a risk-free entry into stepping up your physical activity level, but even so, the AHA offers tips that will help you avoid foot pain when you walk.  While it may seem silly, the AHA (and Houston podiatrists like myself) suggest stretching before you walk, especially if this type of activity is new to you. Areas to focus on in order to take pressure off your feet are your inner thighs, calves and hamstrings.

In order to help avoid injuries, choose a supportive athletic shoe every time you walk, even if you’re just going around the block. If you wear high heels at work, keep a pair of sneakers under your desk and swap shoes during your walking breaks.

If you’re going to be taking longer walks, think about changing up your socks; studies show that pairs made of synthetic fiber do more to prevent blisters than regular old cotton socks. If you’re worried about shin splints, keep your pace slow at the outset of a new walking program and avoid going up too many hills until you’ve really got the hang of things.

Of course, you can’t begin a walking program if you already have foot or heel pain. If you are concerned that sore feet will keep you from introducing physical fitness into your daily routines, schedule an appointment at Tanglewood Foot Specialists today to develop strategies that will alleviate your pain and help you meet your goals for a healthier lifestyle. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.