Runner and Walker Recovery – Foot Pain

One of the main complaints I hear from my runners and walkers is about pain their feet.  Whether it be the heel, arch, or ball of the foot, it seems every pedestrian ends up with foot pain at one point or another.

There are many factors that can cause inflammation on the bottom of the foot.  It is best to get an assessment by a movement specialist to determine your precise cause.  However, there are a few general movements you can start doing to help you keep the pain at bay or even prevent it from starting in the first place.  Check out the video below and follow along to help increase your foot’s flexibility and strength.

Swing Your Arms!!

With the days getting longer and the temperatures getting a bit warmer, Spring has invited to me to start walking more.  I am a person who loves to stack things, so I have started walking to my weekly Yoga class.  I have to leave only about 15 minutes earlier than I usually do, and I get a nice 25 min walk there and back through my local parks.

Last week, I walked to class and it was fairly pleasant outside, but after class, the temps had fallen a bit.  I mention this because this lead me to put my hands in my pockets to keep them warm.  I noticed about 15 minutes into my walk that my mid-back was getting stiff and my neck and shoulders were a little achy.  I tried to think about what we had done in class that would have caused this to happen.  I thought “I just took a Yoga class.  I should feel awesome!” when I realized my hands had been in my pockets this whole time.

With my hands tucked into my coat pockets, my arms were unable to swing in their natural movement.

No swinging = no natural rotation of the spine = pain in my mid-back and shoulders.

When we don’t swing our arms when walking, we lose the subtle rotation of the spine that needs to happen for proper movement.  That rotational force needs to go somewhere, meaning we rotate too much at other places, including the low-back.  In my case, not only was I putting extra force through my low-back, but my mid-back and neck were also bracing against the rotational force that should have been happening.  Hence, the tight back and shoulders.

So the quick lesson of the day is Swing Your Arms!  And make sure you are swinging them with a whole-body movement.  None of this moving from the elbow BS (more on this later).

The Magic of Walking

I am sad to say that the last week I suffered from a mild head cold.  It turns out it was a huge bummer because I also happened to be in San Diego where the weather was perfect, the humidity was just right, and there are miles and miles of boardwalk along the water to run on.  Not wanting to exasperate my symptoms (stuffy nose, congestion… you know the drill) I decided to walk instead of run.

If you have spent any time with me, you will know that walking as exercise is not really my thing.  Why would I walk somewhere where I could run, or even faster, bike?  That was definitely my attitude.  However, after spending the week forced to slow down a little bit, I was surprised at my enjoyment of the walk.

Here’s the thing…normally if I am going to exercise and exert myself, I need a little pep talk.  A little bit of “You can do it!” or “You will feel great when you are done!”, but with walking, I just put on my headphones and wander out.  It is so relaxing and so gentle, one could even say delightful.  I never had to “convince” myself to do it or that it was a great idea.  It was just so easy.

The second thing I noticed was that I could do it for long periods of time, multiple times a day.  I had no problem walking for an hour in the morning and in the evening and then sneaking out after the lunch break (I was attending a conference).  It was just so nice to listen to music or a podcast and take in the scenery, the people, and just the general action that was happening.  I wasn’t constantly thinking about how any more miles I had left or the rate of my cadence.  It was a nice little break from the usual “pressure” of my runs.

Me, walking in the shadow of the Maroon Bells in Aspen, CO.

Third, it helped my mind.  I could process so much on those walks.  Business goals, meal ideas, life revelations were all processed on these walks.  I could organize, plan, and execute all the ideas that usually just swirl around in my head for days on end.  It was very liberating.

The last thing was that it disconnected me from my usually distractions.  Yes, I listened to podcasts (which, by the way, I have been meaning to “get to” for months), but I did not text, check social media, or read emails.  I just listened and walked.  It brought my stress levels way down and it helped me be more alert and clear through the rest of my day.

Now that I am healthy again, I have gone back to some of my usual workout routines, but I have continued my walks.  I just enjoy the time outside and away from responsibility so much!  During these times of high intensity interval training and 60 hour work-weeks it is important to just have some stress-free time.

So I challenge you this month, to start a walking routine.  Scratch that.  Not a “routine”, jut get out and walk every once-in-a-while.  I know we get tired, I know we have a lot on our plates, but take some time to get outside and enjoy nature.

  • Instead of sitting at the television right after dinner, head outside for a 10 minute walk to help your meal digest.
  • Set your clothes out the night before, wake up 15 minutes earlier, and head out in the morning to help you wake up and clear your mind.
  • Spend part of your lunch break walking.  Walk to a local park, eat, and walk back.  Or if you buy lunch, consider walking to the restaurant instead of driving.

This is not about weight-loss or burning calories.  It is about moving your body everyday, using it for what it was designed to do.  It is about taking ourselves out of our routine, away from our screens, and checking in with our surroundings.  It is about bringing a sliver of balance back to our hectic lives.

Happy Walking!