I have a foot injury that is seriously cramping my exercise style (no pun intended). I haven’t been able to walk in several days, because it hurts, I don’t want to it get worse, and I do want it to heal. This has been a good reminder of two important things I always tell patients, but clearly forgot for myself:
1) Stretch your muscles to avoid injury
2) Wear good shoes to avoid injury
I am convinced that this foot injury happened because I walked far and fast in a pair of shoes that were not meant for walking far and fast. Totally bad planning (or no planning) on my part and now I’m paying the price.
Messages about stretching have varied over the years. I originally learned to stretch before exercising, but then it changed to after (when the muscles are warmed up and more flexible). I’ve been stretching after my walk as long as I can remember. But every now and then I hear someone say they stretch before, so maybe we should do a little of both. Here’s an article from the Mayo Clinic about stretching. I was happy to find out I’m doing most of what they suggest! I use the first five minutes of my walk as a “warm-up” and then I also “cool down” with five minutes at the end. I ran (most of) a 5K with my kids recently, and I seriously wondered how to do my warm up, when I was expected to just start running. I ended up parking a few blocks away from the race and walking to the registration area as my warm-up.
And don’t forget about footwear. It really is important. I was wearing a relatively new pair of slip-on snow clogs with my orthotics in them when I injured my foot. I had support, but not in all the right places. I think that because the shoes have no back, I used different muscles (or more likely tendons), which weren’t used to working so hard. In the future I will anticipate situations where I might have to walk a lot and then remember to wear (or at least change into) appropriate shoes.
If I’m injured, I can’t exercise. If I can’t exercise, my blood glucose is much harder to manage. My short- and long-term health depend on my exercising, so it’s my job to stay in good shape for doing that.