Yes, complications do arise out of walking!
On the occasion of World Health Day with a motto of healthcare for all, it is imperative to recall some of the basic complications arising out of the most common exercises like waking.
Hyderabad: On the occasion of World Health Day with a motto of healthcare for all, it is imperative to recall some of the basic complications arising out of the most common exercises like waking. A majority of the population across the world are devoid of even the basic healthcare facilities, forget awareness on complications arising out of walking.
Most of them are suffering from non-communicable and lifestyle-related diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes and many other complications and co-morbidities arising from these ailments. One of the prime reasons can be attributed to the sedentary lifestyle opted even by corporates and office-goers. It is recommended that everyone should devote a minimum of 5-6 hours weekly for some kind of physical activity, be it exercise, aerobics, yoga or of the simplest being walking.
"Walking is a superb way to maintain and improve the overall health, even for people without any health complications. Though patients with chronic diabetes, heart ailments and hypertension are advised for a regular walk at least half-an-hour daily, but not all the body types are same, and aiming to get something better, most of them end up getting some kind of knee foot and ankle problems. Such kind of problems are often neglected assuming to be a part of their fatigue, but it is highly advised to consult a knee, foot and ankle specialist/ podiatrist for considering when to walk, how to walk, how long to walk along with the optimal flip flop choice.
Who needs to be careful while walking?
Not all patients have the same body structure, energy and stamina vary even for a small walk. A diabetic patient may pant quickly or accompanied by leg pain as his body may not support, whereas a hypertensive patient may walk longer distance without panting but may have complications associated with his joints. Joint pains are the most common and the neglected ones. Other complications while walking include for people with arch foot or flat foot. Without consulting a podiatrist, they often select the wrong flip flops that often tend to keep their foot and ankle joints at dismal. Some of the most common knee foot and ankle complications due to improper way of walking, incorrect flip-flops include:
1. Heel Pain- This is one of the most common problems a person faces. Though pain due to fatigue may subside on its own, but in many cases, it can also indicate some serious concerns.
i Plantar Fasciitis- If the heel pain doesn't subside, it may be an indication of plantar fasciitis, which is an acute pain in the thick tissue (plantar Fascia) that connects heel bone and the toes. This pain occurs when this thick tissue gets swollen or inflamed. If left untreated, this can lead to chronic heel pain and can change the way of walking. People with flat feet and very high arches are more prone to Plantar Fasciitis. Weak foot muscles with high arch can also lead to this pain and can also short and tighten calf muscles. For such patients a consideration from their podiatrist is highly recommended before opting for physical exercise, including walking.
i Achilles Tendonitis- Achilles is a large tendon that connects two calf muscles. Sudden pressure on Achilles can cause severe pain. This can also lead to ankle pain even after walking a shorter distance, which usually arises after brisk and sudden walking without warm up.
2) Stress Fracture – This condition mostly arises in obese patients where formation of small cracks in the lower part of the legs is diagnosed to be a fracture. It can be caused due to overuse and repetitive action of a particular activity. Stress fractures can be found in any bones of the foot, usually in metatarsals bones.
3) Knee Pain- This is a pain which occurs just below the knee cap. Pain in the knees can be caused if you are pressuring yourself for immediate walking. Patients with a history of joint problems, osteoarthritis, Rhematoid Arthritis should avoid such long-distance walking as the knee joints further deteriorate causing inflammation and pain. They are also advised to choose the required flip flop recommended by the doctor.
People may find walking painful especially along the inside border of the foot and ankle if they have a flat foot. Running can be very difficult due to pain. They can also get swelling in the inside of the ankle. Sometimes tingling or numbness can develop on the inside or sole of the foot because the nerve along the inside of the ankle may be slightly stretched or compressed.
Unfortunately, the problem can worsen if timely attention is not paid to it. If the cause is a simple tendon abnormality causing the foot to flatten then it can be helped with insoles and physiotherapy as the arch can be restored fairly easily. If the foot is left untreated then the foot can become arthritic and the flat foot can be quite stiff and impossible to correct with insoles. It is vital to get assessed as soon as possible as solutions to your problem can change a lot and become more difficult over time.
Choose the right flip flop
It is important to consider an experienced podiatrist to choose the right type of flip flops with comfort of the foot. By wearing flip flops, you can reduce the chances of getting into serious leg injuries. For the summers, flip-flops is the best option as it the most comfortable footwear. But just keep in mind that, wear flip-flops as per your feet. For arch feet, orthotic sandals are the best option. These sandals help in correcting the foot problems. For normal and flat feet slippers are the perfect footwear. There are some flip flops which help with Plantar Fasciitis. So, while walking just keep in mind that you are having right footwear and right body posture. (Writer is Orthopaedic Surgeon & Podiatrist, Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai)