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The 6 S’s of walking/running safely.

Posted Aug 09 2011 10:13am

Now that we are in the middle of summer, many of my patients ask about outdoor activities like walking and running and what they should and should not do. I usually instruct our patients to warm up a little with some walking and some simple range of motion stretches involving the major muscle groups before starting their outdoor projects . for more sedentary patients, I tell them to take time every 20-30 minutes to stand up and stretch after they have been in one specific posture for a period of time.

There are 6 areas that I talk to people about as they start walking or running.  Besides recommending specific stretches to my patients, there are other concerns I discuss with them to help support them as they exercise. While these may seem like common sense, these tips are a good reminder to be safe and healthy as you exercise.

Stay hydrated. A safe recommendation is drinking at least 50 percent of your body weight in ounces over a given day. Wear appropriate workout clothing including reflective cloths if you are exercising in dim light. Use adequate sunscreen or wear a hat when appropriate. Have good shoes.

I like to keep most of the focus on what is called the 6 S’s of running/walking. These include stretching, speed, strength, surface, shoes and structure. Paying attention to each of these six points makes a world of difference for patients to stay healthy while exercising.

Even the casual walker should stretch the Gastrocnemius (calf muscle) and Achilles tendon. These are common areas for cramping and as we age become more prone to injury. Stretching should be done before and after exercising. Speed is also important. You should not start out going too fast or too far too soon. Not paying attention to this can result in overuse injuries caused by trying to do too much before the body is ready to handle the pace or distance.

Strength will come as you become more active. Inactivity will only cause you to become weaker. As you start to walk or run, stay on a level and fairly smooth surface. As you become more experienced, adding hills and uneven surfaces can make the walk or run more challenging. I have advised many people to walk in the Mall to start with.

Shoes are incredibly important. Many patients will come in with back pain only to have it significantly reduced by getting new shoes to exercise in. If you are unsure if your shoes are good enough to work out in, feel free to bring them in for an evaluation. We would be happy to look at them for you at no charge. Call our office at 860-620-9523.  And I wouldn’t be a good Chiropractor if I didn’t mention structure. I frequently tell patients that exercising a crooked spine is like banging a bent nail. It can cause problems. And how do you know if your spine is crooked? Look at your posture in the mirror. If one shoulder or one hip is higher than the other, there is a good chance your spine is crooked. And if you exercise that way, more pressure will be put on one pelvis, one hip, one knee and one foot. This could lead to problems down the road.

So before you start and walking or running program, get checked by your Chiropractor or your Physical therapists. Exercise smart and you will be much happier.  You can find out more about us at

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