Get moving with physiotherapy


By Wendy Marlatt

Stay on your toes about common walking injuries

The welcomed warm weather and the anticipation of spring has many of us lacing up the shoes and heading outdoors.  It is a common occurrence to see people out walking now that the snow is gone and the streets and roads are dry.  

Walking is one of the safest and easiest forms of exercise. It is easier on the joints than many high impact activities, but is not a guaranteed pain free form of exercise.  Certain muscles tend to be overused while others are minimally used while walking. A new injury can arise or an old chronic problem can resurface when starting out with a walking program.

Here are some common injuries that can occur.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the fibrous tissue along the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed.  The tissue runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and stiffens as a protective response to injury and presents as heel pain that may radiate into the arch.  The pain is commonly most severe upon rising from bed in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

After returning home from a walk, stretch out the arch by crossing one ankle on the opposite knee while sitting.  Place your hand over the ball of the foot and pull the forefoot forward until a stretch is felt in the arch.  Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, repeating three to four times on each foot.

Black toe occurs with injury to the tissue under the toe nail.  It can occur with high mileage walking or hiking and walking down hills.  Bleeding and fluid build-up triggers bruising under the toe nail from the toe repetitively hitting the end of the shoe.  To avoid injury to the nail bed, wear proper fitting shoes and shoes that are appropriate for the type of activity.

Shin splints is an overuse injury of the muscle on the front of the leg below the knee.  It can cause aching and tenderness from the knee to the ankle and generally resolves with self-care measures of rest, ice and elevation.  Pain is often worse in the morning and at the beginning of walking improving as the muscle loosens with motion.  Between walks, try doing toe taps or walking on your heels to strengthen the muscle along the shin.

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel which connects the calf muscle to the heel.  It can start as a dull ache progressing to a more intense pain.  Inflammation of the tendon can be the result of excessive walking up and down steep hills, walking on uneven ground or wearing worn out shoes.  If pain develops at the back of the heel, reduce the amount of walking, stay on flat terrain and apply ice to the area.  The walking program may need to be replaced with cycling or swimming until the pain subsides.

Watch next time for more common walking injuries and methods to prevent and treat the onset of injuries.  Wendy can be contacted at 476-3742 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .