Injury prevention for the avid walkerApril 27, 2018 | by Dr. Christopher MacLean
For many of us, walking is a basic movement we rely on in everyday life.
However, for the avid walker logging many kilometers a week on B.C.’s mountain trails, dog walking, commuting to work, or in their occupation, walking becomes an endurance activity.
Just like other endurance sports, it’s important to take the right steps to protect our bodies from injury later in life. From a biomechanical perspective, there are four important aspects we look at to manage and prevent injury in avid walkers.
Ill-fitting footwear and worn out shoes can lead to discomfort, pain and contribute to lower-limb overuse injury. It is important to seek advice when choosing the right shoe for your activity goals (i.e., cushion, neutral supportive, stability, motion control), and then the best approach is to let comfort be your guide. If you are in the Fortius facility, we recommend stopping by our resident retail partner FitFirst Footwear to get fitted properly.
2. STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING
Adding strength and conditioning work to your routine is a great way to help manage injury and prevent injury. Building up muscle strength, stamina and mobility, will help your body better protect your joints against the stresses of walking long distances.
3. WALKING TECHNIQUE
Walking technique is something that is often overlooked. However, small modifications to things like step length, stride width and your positioning prior to landing can help to prevent and resolve overuse injuries. Having a biomechanical analysis, or assessment by an expert can make a big difference toward the health of your joints in future years.
4. PELVIC AND HIP DYNAMICS
More recently, technique and pelvic/hip function has received a great deal of attention through scientific research. We now have sufficient evidence that asymmetry in the pelvis and hips can contribute to injury at the knee, ankle and foot. Having a biomechanical analysis, or assessment can help to identify and correct such movement patterns.
5. 3DGAIT ANALYSIS
Using state-of-the-art 3D motion capture technology, we have developed a 3DWalk gait analysis that is accessible to the recreational walker. The analysis helps us to analyze the influence of these four variables above, as well as provide solutions/recommendations on how to best manage the presenting injury or prevent injury in future.
For pain or discomfort walking up or downhill, our force measuring treadmill has the ability to assess individuals at different walking speeds and inclines. For more complicated foot and ankle issues, we are able to independently evaluate the hindfoot, the midfoot and function of the big toe joint, which is essential to healthy walking.
Athletes who enjoy walking for fitness have different goals. For some, it may be that they are preparing for their upcoming trek across Europe and, for others, it may be to improve their fitness by walking the dog, three times a week. From a biomechanical perspective, the goals and solutions may differ, but the math is the same.
If you don’t have an acute injury or can walk, pain-free contact us today at 604.292.2503 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your first appointment. If you have an acute injury or are unable to walk pain-free for a short duration, it is best to first have an assessment with a practitioner in the Fortius Institute prior to coming in for the walking analysis.