Hippocrates once said, “Walking is man’s best medicine,” and when it comes to the back, he was right on the mark. Walking helps strengthen your core and back muscles and promotes healthy circulation for better joint health. With spring just around the corner (no really, it is), we have a few tips to help get you ready to kick off a season of regular walking so you can feel great, tone up and even shed some pounds:
• Choose the right shoes. The shoes you wear have to be sturdy enough to support your weight and provide sure footing, and they also have to be properly fit to avoid blisters and other foot-related problems. Plus, they need enough padding and resiliency to handle jolts and bumps so your spine stays protected.
• Set realistic goals and Increase gradually. Start slowly; not only is it better for your back and your muscles, but it also avoids burn out that can occur if you try to do too much too soon. As you adjust to your routine, ramp it up slowly, maybe going a little farther each week until you reach your goal.
• Stop if you feel pain. Some minor muscle pain is to be expected, especially if you’ve been relatively inactive before beginning your walking regimen, but sometimes, pain can be a sign your body is reaching its limit for the day. Don’t push it; switch to a mild cool down routine of very gentle stretches or very slow walking to help your muscles relax and then take a break yourself so you don’t wind up with an injury. And if you experience severe pain, stop right away and head to the doctor.
• See the doctor before starting a walking program if you have back pain or other chronic health issue. Sure, you may feel up to the task, but getting the all-clear from your doctor can increase your peace of mind, and your doctor also may be able to provide you with a few helpful tips to get even more benefits. Plus, if you have back pain, you should have it evaluated before beginning any type of activity that could wind up making your condition worse.
• Make it fun. Download some music, listen to an E-book or enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Making sure you don’t get bored is the best way to ensure you stay on track.