Problem Areas to Watch for as a Walker

Though walking is safe and easy, repeated movements can strain your muscles and joints if you're not careful. You should keep in mind that if you're feeling pain anywhere in your body while you're on a walking program, the safest bet is to see a doctor to make sure there's nothing serious going on.

Making sure a new ache or pain isn't anything serious is something that will help you keep up your momentum. Walking when you're feeling pain can cause you to change your gait to accommodate for the pain, can give you lower back aches and further damage an area that's injured - all of which can derail your walking program.

One of the ways that you can injure your knees while walking is by setting a pace that's too fast for your current fitness level. Your knees can become injured doing repetitive movement and this can cause an inflammation to build up.

You can also develop problems with your knees if you have poor posture while you're walking. One of the most common causes of knee problems usually occurs because of leaning forward or tilting back slightly as you walk.

Your joint starts to feel pressure pain - at first, you may not recognize this as joint pain. You'll only recognize that the pain seems to come from beneath your kneecap.

Then you may notice swelling or the skin in the area feels hot to the touch. This is a sign of inflammation and it needs to be treated. Sometimes simply resting the affected area can help.

You simply have to try to not use the knee as much as possible. If resting it doesn't help, then you'll need to take medication or possibly use compression bandages or a brace.

Remember that if any pain persists after home rest and treatment - get it checked. Your muscles and joints need to gradually grow accustomed to your walking program.

If you do too much too fast, that's another way that you can also hurt your knees. Setting your walking program to cover rough terrain is also a way that your knees can be injured.

Rough terrain or areas that are at an incline can put even more pressure on the knees. The IT band is a ligament that enables you to move your knee. The ligament also helps keep it steady.

If this ligament becomes inflamed, it can make it hard for you to use the knee for any movement. This type of injury is caused by pushing yourself to walk distances that your body isn't ready to handle.

But wearing shoes that should have been replaced due to wear and tear can also cause it. Ice and rest can help alleviate the pain caused by injury to the IT band. A common injury in walkers is plantar fasciitis.

This is a condition that can cause pain that you'll feel on the bottom of one or both feet. The culprits behind this pain are tiny tears caused by overuse - such as too much walking or buying poorly cushioned shoes.

If the problem persists and you don't get it treated, then you can develop bone spurs - a condition that's even more painful. If you have feet that don't have good arches, your chance of developing a bunion is higher than that of walkers with high arches.

To avoid this condition, you need to make sure that your shoes don't fit so snugly that they press against the toe joints. Shin splints are common for walkers, too. These are bone pains that occur in the lower legs.

The pain is caused by inflammation. The inflammation is caused by doing too much walking. It's also caused by walking on terrain that has little or no give - such as asphalt.

If you continually walk briskly up or down a hill, this can contribute to shin splints. Unfortunately, some people attribute the pain from shin splints to muscle pain and try to keep on walking.

If you feel any pain in your lower leg bones, be on the safe side and suspect that the pain is from a shin splint. With this kind of injury, you should stop walking immediately.

They're a sign that damage has occurred and if you continue walking with a shin splint, you can do serious damage to the tissue and bone. If you continue to keep walking with shin splints, you'll develop serious bone fractures and this painful consequence will keep you off your feet for weeks.

Some health conditions do contribute to the development of shin splints. Among these conditions is osteoporosis. Any health condition that affects bone density can make you more susceptible to shin splints.

Because swelling occurs with shin splints, the treatment - if you happen to get this condition - is to rest the affected leg and use ice to reduce the swelling. Your leg will heal faster if you stay off of it.

You can take precautions that can help prevent you from getting shin splints. Always make sure that you're wearing the right shoes every time you go out walking.

Make sure that your shoes are in good shape and there are no worn places. Check your shoes to make sure that they're giving you the right kind of absorption protection.

Shoes that have low quality insoles don't give your legs the kind of protection that they need. It's the impact of the foot coming in contact with a surface that can lead to shin splints.

Choose to walk on areas that have more give than the asphalt. Stay away from areas that force you to flex your foot upward. If you've had a shin splint in the past, make sure that when you are able to get back to walking that you slowly build back up to the level you were at before you were injured.

If you try to jump back to where you were, you can risk a re-injury. Bursitis is an inflammation caused by walking. It happens when the fluid sac or bursae get irritated.

One of the biggest causes for hip pain from this condition is not taking the time to slowly level up to the miles you cover while walking. By taking your time to build your walking program, you can avoid many of the joint problems, injuries and inflammations that others experience.

Hamstring injuries can occur with walking if you push yourself to walk too fast - especially if you're going up inclines or hills. Your hamstring is made up of three muscles and these muscles are what allow you to bend your knee.

If you strain or pull a hamstring, it means that the muscle has torn and it could be one of any of the three muscles within the hamstring. When an injury like this occurs, you can experience muscle weakness - such as the inability to walk - as well as pain and swelling.

To avoid this kind of injury, build up your walking endurance and avoid terrain that cause for strenuous use of the hamstring muscles. Sprains are common with walking, but are easily one of the most avoidable injuries.

The two most easily sprained areas when walking are the ankles and the wrists from catching yourself if you trip and fall. With the ankles, it's easy to turn your foot and sprain it if you're walking on uneven surfaces.

Even if the surface is relatively flat - such as a road or sidewalk - there can still be small items - such as a rock or a twig - that can cause you to sprain your ankle.

Your Achilles tendon can be injured if you overuse it by walking more than you should before you're ready. To protect against injuring this tendon, you want to be careful with uphill walking or any walking that causes this muscle to have to flex.

It's important that you wear the proper shoes to protect your Achilles tendon. There are many injuries that can be tied back to having the wrong kind of shoes. Having the wrong kind of shoes makes it only a matter of time before you sustain some kind of damage to your body tissue or muscles.

The best way to prevent injury to your muscles and joints is to make sure that you have the best walking shoes that you can afford to buy. Your shoes should be your biggest investment.

Though they're not meant to last forever, they are meant to make your walking experience comfortable. When you start a walking program, you want to make sure that you don't go all out and push yourself in a new pair of shoes.

Wear your shoes for a little while each day until you break them in so that you're comfortable in them during longer distances. Too many walkers keep their shoes for far longer than it's safe to - just because they're not aware of when the shoes should be replaced.

But there are some signs that you can check for to see if it's time for you to buy a new pair. Signs that your shoes need replacing are worn soles, uneven heels and tearing on the cushioning.

Look for cracks in the material or on the heels. Any damage or uneven places can make it easier for you to trip. The time to replace your shoes is before you actually need to.

By the time the shoes are worn down, you're at risk of injury. A good rule of thumb is the 3 or 500 rule. If you've used the shoes for 3 months and you've logged 500 miles wearing them, it's time to replace them.

Some walkers will automatically replace their shoes after 350 miles of use, but it's only necessary at that mileage if the shoe shows wear. Think of it like you would a car and making sure you get the oil changed so that the vehicle runs properly.

More On Walking:

Walking for Better Health

Health Benefits of Walking

Making Sure to have the Right Walking Gear

How to Map Out the Location of Your Walking Regimen

Setting the Perfect Pace for Your Walking Program

Developing a Plan of Goals for Your Walking Program

Tech Gadgets for Walkers

How to Make Your Walking Program More Challenging

10 Top-rated & Affordable Walking Shoes for Women

Best Books of 2014