Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Healthy knees are so important for mobility that we should take great care of them. I often think if we took as much care of our feet and knees as we do of our face we would reap greater long term benefits.
Walking is easier on our knees than other high impact activities such as jogging or running. Walk at a steady pace, lifting your feet and replacing them gently on the ground. Do not stamp or march and avoid jerking the body.
As a regular walker there are some things you should do to care for your knees and feet and help avoid problems.
1.Build up fitness slowly. Start off by walking 10 minutes per day at a moderate pace and build up gradually.
2.Always wear a good pair of walking shoes or boots which have been fitted to take account of your foot shape and walking gait. If you need help in choosing walking shoes click here
3.Exercise your knees after walking two or three times per week. As walking uses only certain muscles it is advisable to build up other muscles by stretching and exercise in addition to walking. Standing on the tips of your toes and holding for 30 seconds will strengthen calf muscles. Repeat several times. The following exercise will strengthen the inner thigh muscles and creates a balance with the outer thigh muscles which are used in walking. Sit on a chair. Extend leg and hold for 30 seconds. Lower knee making a 45° angle. Hold for 30 seconds. Lower leg to the ground and repeat with the second leg. Try to do five repeats per leg.
4.Walk on yielding terrain. Not all walking surfaces are kind to knees. Concrete and asphalt are particularly taxing. Grass, wood chips, dirt and cinder track are best.
5.Maintain a body weight appropriate for your height and build. Our knees balance and carry our entire body weight so it makes sense that we do not carry unnecessary weight. If we do, sooner or later our knees are going to react with a consequent loss of mobility. If you have weight problems click here for advice Healthy body weight is maintained by a combination of calorie control and exercise. Calorie control simply means being careful of what we eat, cutting down on sugar and too much carbohydrate and replacing them with fruit and vegetables.
6.Use poles/walking sticks, to take the weight off your knees and transfer it to your arms. Two poles are better than one as they balance the transfer of weight. Poles are particularly helpful when walking downhill.
If you have ongoing pain in your knees do not walk but consult your medical advisor.
Enjoy your walking and take care of those knees!