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Walking and Running for Exercise During Covid-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has many people turning to walking and running as their main form of exercise. Here are some tips to help keep you on your feet.

Getting Started with a Walking or Running Exercise Program:

Start slow... Both figuratively and literally.

Listen to your body. Pain vs Soreness.

Avoid hills…at first. Hills place a lot of strain on the calf muscles, the Achilles tendon and the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia specifically). This is especially important if you are running- consider avoiding hills alltogether, or walking up the hilly portions of your run.

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of appropriate shoes. Running shoes are the best shoes for running and walking. Some reputable brands include: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Asics, Hoka and Mizuno. Some shoes are meant for flatter feet, while some are made for those with higher arches. Here are two important features of a good running/walking shoe:

 

  1. Heel height (Stack Height):  A running or walking shoe should have some elevation to the heel in relation to the front of the shoe. This is referred to as the “stack height”. 10mm of “heel drop” is typical for most traditional running shoes, with some exceptions. Hoka makes a great shoe but with lower heel drop (4-8mm) You can still wear these, but you may have to add a heel lift to these (a small piece of gel or cork under heel portion of the shoe liner to add heel height).
  2. Stiff Sole: You want to limit the bending of your toes in as much as possible as this stretches the structure on the bottom of your foot, which can lead to pain. Stiffness can range from completely stiff (like a Hoka or the New Balance Fresh Foam More) or it can bend a little (like a Brooks Addiction or Asics foundation). Unfortunately most Nike shoes are examples of what too much bending in a shoe feels. We recommend you avoid Nike or “minimalist” shoes as a general rule.

Signs of Overuse Injury

Experiencing stabbing pain on the bottom of the heel, tearing sensations on the back of the heel, pain along the shins, or knee pain might be symptoms of conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, patella-femoral pain or illio-tibial band syndrome (ITBs).

When should I get medical attention?

If you experience the symptoms above or any other bothersome symptoms that are not getting better quickly with rest or if your symptoms are intense, it is time to seek care from a foot and ankle specialist.

We hope that you can experience the physical and mental health benefits that accompany regular cardio exercise and look forward to helping you along in your journey however we can.

 

Be safe, be active, be healthy,

Chris Robertson

Author
Christopher Robertson Dr. Robertson is a podiatrist practicing at Valley Foot and Ankle in Renton, Washington. His interests in podiatry include sports medicine, regenerative medicine, radiofrequency ablation for the foot, bunions and shock wave therapy. He was a high school and collegiate cross country and Track athlete who still runs recreationally. When he is not treating toes, he enjoys hiking, cooking and community outreach.

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