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.
- Walk before run: It is safest to start with a daily walking program and progress to running program with runs spaced every other day
- Limit your walks to three miles a day and your runs to 10-20 minutes a day for the first few weeks.
- When running, keep a slow pace while getting started. Cardiovascular benefit can be achieved with as little as 10 minutes of jogging at 10 minute per mile pace.
- Increase slowly. One rule of thumb is to only increase activities by roughly 20% per week at most. You can track this increase using distance or time, whichever you prefer.
Listen to your body. Pain vs Soreness.
- Pain means back off completely until the pain goes away.
- Soreness is okay as long as it goes away after a day or two. If you are mildly sore, skip a day or reduce the distance and intensity. If you are really sore, just skip the activity all-together until the soreness is gone or just very slight.
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- Local shoe stores in the Seattle area we commonly recommend to our patients are Shoes N feet (Bellevue), Sole Perfection (Multiple locations) and Gentry’s (Kent Station).
- Runner's world offers a 2020 shoe guide here.
- Our office provides a shoe list and we are happy to review the shoes you have or are considering purchasing. One option is to purchase shoes online from a vendor with a lenient return policy, like Zappos. You can schedule an appointment and bring in a few shoes you are considering holding onto and we can tell you which ones seem like they would be a good fit for your foot needs.
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,