Making Sure to have the Right Walking Gear
Having the right gear or equipment when you walk will make your experience the best that it can be.
The main piece of equipment that you use for walking is a pair of shoes.
So you want to start your walking program by making sure that you have the right kind for your feet. Your feet aren't formed exactly like anyone else's feet are and you need to cater to the shape of your foot - especially when it comes to the arch.
This can help make a difference in giving you a pleasant walking experience as well as helping you avoid injuries. Even though a pair of shoes might claim to be good to use as walking shoes, it doesn't automatically mean that they are.
There are some specific features and details that you'll need to look for. If you're not sure how to choose the right ones, you'll want to follow these tips. One of the most common problems that people run into when they walk is the development of blisters.
Blisters develop when there's friction - something is rubbing an area of the foot. Poor fitting shoes can cause blisters and they can be caused by shoes that are either too loose or too tight.
Shoes that are too loose can rub up and down, such as against he back of the heel. Shoes that are too tight can force your toes into each other and cause pressure blisters.
Wearing the wrong kind of socks can also cause blisters to develop. You'll want to avoid wearing socks that are made of cotton. Cotton socks absorb sweat and moisture, keeping the wetness against your skin.
Choose to wear socks that are made of synthetic fabric instead. These will help keep your skin from staying wet. Something that can also help to keep your feet dry is buying shoes that are lightweight and give you good airflow around the foot.
You'll find this feature if you purchase shoes that are made from lightweight mesh. You do want to be careful that your feet aren't too dry. Dry skin is more prone to the development of blisters than moisturized skin is.
To avoid blisters, you'll want to buy running shoes that fit well, leaving the space of your finger between the end of your toes and the front of the shoe. Not only can having the right shoes help you keep blisters from forming, but it can also protect you against a common injury with your Achilles tendon.
If you've ever noticed shoes that have the notch at the back, that's what the notch is for. It's called an Achilles notch and it's located at the back center of the shoe.
It's designed that way to offer support to this tendon. You need this support when you're going to be walking - en short distances. Tearing your Achilles tendon can cause you to be off your feet from a couple of days to a couple of months, depending on the severity of the tear.
Something else that's an important factor to consider with the kind of walking shoes you get is the shock absorption. This is the part of the shoe that's going to be taking the brunt of the impact between your foot and whatever you're walking on.
The surface area where you're going to do your walking will greatly impact your foot's health if you don't have proper shock absorption. Walking on concrete is worse on your feet than walking on dirt or a treadmill.
The more the walking surface gives when your weight comes down on it, the less the strength of the impact. What you want to do is to pay attention to the midsole of the shoe.
This is the area at the rear or heel of the shoe that looks slightly elevated. You want the best cushioning that you can get here. The insole of the shoe is what you also want to check out before buying.
This is the part of the shoe that protects the arch of your foot. If you hold a walking shoe at eye level, you'll see the arch of the shoe. Some people add insoles for extra cushioning, but if you buy a quality shoe, you don't have to do that.
It's important that you buy shoes that are specific toward the type of arch your foot has.
There are 3 types of arches that people have:
- Neutral Feet or Normal Arch
- High Arch (Underpronated)
- Low Arch (Overpronated or Flat Feet).
Low arches need shoes with more motion control. High arch feet need thicker cushioning. You can tell what kind of arch you have with your feet by wetting the bottom of your foot and stepping onto a piece of cardboard.
For people who have a neutral or normal shaped arch, there will be a gently sloped indention that resembles the top center of a boomerang arch. If you have a high arch, the imprint of your foot on the cardboard will show only a very small portion of the heel.
The top of the foot imprint may even have a space between it and the bottom of the foot. Low arch feet, also known as flat feet, will show almost all of the footprint on the cardboard.
Those who have normal arches can wear whatever kind of walking shoe that they choose because their feet are better shaped to absorbed shock. High arch shaped feet need a shoe that offers great midsole cushioning, since their arch doesn't give them this necessary support.
Feet with high arches are at a higher risk of joint damage if improper shoes are worn. If you have flat feet, you need to buy walking shoes that offer stability and better midsole support.
Once you have the shoes that suit your foot style, you'll want to focus on the kind of clothing that you'll need to wear. Since your walking program is something that you'll want to stick with long term, you'll need a few days' worth of clothing to use.
It's important that you choose walking clothes that are weather appropriate. If you choose clothes that are too hot for summertime use, you can run the risk of having a heat stroke.
If you choose clothes that are too cool for winter use, you can end up chilled. Never layer up too heavily when you go for a walk in the cooler weather. Remember that whatever type of weather, you'll be walking in the body heat you'll generate from moving and will make it anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees warmer.
If it's 40 degrees outside, your body heat will make it feel like it's 50 to 55 degrees. If you layer up too much, you can be at risk of overheating - even if it's cold out.
You want the clothes that you choose to be comfortable. Clothes that don't fit right will cause chafing and you'll be miserable. It can be tempting to wear loose clothes, but loose clothes contribute to chafing.
Instead, you want clothes that fit your body snugly. Avoid cotton clothing because when you sweat, cotton will take in the moisture and this wetness contributes to chafing.
Lycra clothing is a good choice. For women, you'll want to choose a variety of sports bras that help keep you comfortable while you're walking. When these bras get stretched out, you'll need to replace them, because any sign of stretching means that the bra has lost its ability to give you the kind of support you need.
You may want to look for clothing that's similar to what runners wear. These items are made to keep the body cool and dry or warm and dry. You don't want to wear cotton clothing in any outer or innerwear since they hold on to moisture.
Wearing cotton underwear can cause chafing in the inner creases of the groin where it meets the leg. You also want to avoid clothing with inside material that can pill.
These kinds of materials, such as some styles of sweatpants, can cause chafing. If you want the best walking clothes, you're going to want to shop for flexible fabrics.
These are clothing items that are made of lightweight material and have some give to them despite being fitted. These kinds of materials allow for more natural movements as you walk.
Walking is one of the safest ways to get moving, but it's not without its need to take some precautions. One of the precautions that you're going to want to take is to protect yourself against damage from the sun.
Sun damage is one of the most overlooked injuries when it comes to walking. Most people simply don't think about protecting their skin since they're just going to be out for a little while.
But you want to use sunscreen regardless of how long you plan to be on your walk. The purpose of sunscreen is to keep the sun's harmful rays from causing damage such as wrinkles and sunspots, and also cell changes that could cause skin cancer to develop.
Even on overcast days, your skin can be at risk. You'll want to check what your day's UV rating or index is before venturing out. Some smart technology devices have apps that will give you the UV index in your area.
The lower the number given, the less risk you are to overexposure to the sun's rays. If you're going to be out walking in hot weather, it's possible that you'll sweat off the sunscreen that you applied at the beginning of the walk.
The brand that you choose to use may suggest that you reapply it after a certain amount of time. Not only is your skin subject to damage from the sun's rays, but so are your eyes.
Sun damage has been linked with certain eye problems. It's best to wear sunglasses on bright sunny days to avoid damage to your eyes. Some walkers choose to wear sun visors to add protection against ultraviolet rays.
Sunscreen that contains an SPF level of 15 is a good choice for most walkers. However, if you're someone who's had a problem with skin cancer in the past or you're at higher risk because of family genetics, then you'll want to use one with an SPF level of 30 or higher.
Make sure that you check the ingredients list. Not all sunscreens are the same - and some have less effective ingredients than others. You'll also want to check the expiration date of a sunscreen before you use it.
Some can lose their effectiveness sooner than other brands can. When applying sunscreen, make sure that you don't forget about the top of your head. Scalp sunburns can be painful and the scalp is one of the most often overlooked places when applying sunscreen.
When starting a walking program, some people like to walk outdoors very early in the morning, while others like to walk later in the evening. This is especially true when the weather is too hot to be comfortable in the middle of the day.
While this might make you more comfortable, it also raises the risk factor that you could end up with an injury or have your safety compromised in other ways. This is why you'll want to buy safety gear for your walking program.
You'll want to buy items such as reflective gear. When you're wearing reflective gear, it makes it easier for you to be seen. By being more visible, you can cut your risk of ending up getting hurt by traffic because a driver didn't see you in the early morning or evening darkness.
Plus, if you happen to fall or are unable to continue walking, reflective gear can make it easier for other people to be able to locate you. Most of the reflective gear that you can get are lightweight and easy to make a part of your walking routine.
You can get vests designed to fit men or women. These vests fit right over your walking clothes. They have wide stripes that reflect light and make you clearly visible to others walking or to oncoming traffic.
Ankle bands are another type of reflective gear that can make you more noticeable as you walk. Flashing armbands and personal safety lights can alert others to your presence in an area.
Even if you don't plan to walk when it's dark out, it's always a good idea to have this gear. Many walkers have started out on their planned location only to find themselves out later than they intended.
They end up walking home in the dark. LED wrist lights can also be helpful as safety gear for walkers.
If you live in an area that's known for higher temperatures in the summer, you might want to think about making sure you stay hydrated during your walk.
You can do this by taking water with you. If you don't want to carry the water, you can bring it along by using a hydration belt or an armband water carrier. Walking is a great way to clear your head and get some much needed mental relaxation.
If you're going to be walking outside, you can take along a portable entertainment device such as an iPod Touch. With one of these, you can listen to your favorite music.
You can hear an audiobook or you can take in the talk show that you enjoy. You can also enjoy entertainment apps on your iPhone. You can learn a new language, catch up on sports or talk with friends.
Sometimes, you'll find that you can't follow your outdoor walking program like you want to do and you may end up having to rely on your treadmill. Boredom while walking on a treadmill is one of the reasons that it's favored less than walking outdoors.
But you can beat boredom by choosing a treadmill that helps you be entertained while you're walking. You can get treadmills that have desk stands so you can use your laptop, watch television, listen to music or learn educational material.
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