Walk to your Health

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

by Paula Allia

Happy New Year! It is 2015 and many of you are either thinking of starting an exercise program or continuing one. Commonly, many get more ambitious in the beginning of the year and then over the first few months, the motivation tapers and the exercise intensities wane. Some quit due to time, others laziness, and still others that develop aches and pains and feel that they are hurting themselves so the path of least resistance to do nothing is taken.

Performing both weight training and some form of cardiovascular activity is pertinent to health and wellness. Simply, working out without prolonged excessive stress can strengthen the heart and body.

walkingBeing sedentary or working out too vigorously for hours a day may be detrimental to your heart so exercising in the right capacity is the key.

If you are unsure of where to start, get out and walk. Walking is a great way to kick-start your program. Walking can be started slowly and if you are not in good shape, you can gradually increase the pace so as to challenge your heart and mind as time progresses.

The key to walking is that you utilize the proper muscles to do so. Weakness in the hip muscles can cause one to change a correct gait pattern over time and improper joint and muscle use can lead to wear and tear on your joints. In 2010 there were 332,000 total hip replacements (THR). The fear of this 44 percent increase over the last four years is that THR are being done younger and younger from early hip breakdown. Exercise but exercise properly to last longer.

Since there are so many hips breaking down one should want to exercise the hip muscles and coordinate them to work in conjunction with the other core muscles and leg muscles as well. If normal gait pattern is interrupted correction is key to performance and lessening the ill affects on the joints will help to delay arthritic changes from abnormal wear and tear. You may not even recognize abnormal gait changes until aching or stiffness settle it. Catch abnormalities early.

Strength training properly will tone and build muscle. Muscles increase metabolism because muscles use more energy than the fat on our bodies. Thus toning has potential to increase calorie utilization. What a perfect beginning to the new year by using a combination of strength and walking workouts.

Take note of the biomechanics to walking. If you watch people walk, some take long strides, some short, some waddle side to side. Utilization of both the proper excursion of joints and the proper musculature timing will allow one to participate correctly.

During gait activities, the hip propels the leg forward until the heel strikes the ground. The gluteal muscles in the buttocks should be active then to bring the leg back into extension. Interestingly, many people do not exhibit this pattern when walking. Any excessive tightness in the hip flexors, hamstrings, or IT band can alter the step and stride lengths. Any weakness in the muscles used in gait will force a person to compensate by either using other muscles or overusing other joints. This can even go unrecognized until, of course, when pain ensues.

If an injury has ever slowed your activities down, it is very possible that your gait in abnormal so to start a walking program the wrong way could cause issues down the road. Become body aware.

If there are weaknesses in your walking or you are questioning that possibility, get yourself checked out. It is common that even those that have are one year post hip replacements may still have an abnormal step and stride length because after therapy continued progression of
proper gait execution was not done on your own. The body has to be taught how to perform the correct movement and if there are  weaknesses the muscles have to first be strengthened then utilized in the activity in order for proper execution.

Get started today! Take care of yourself by ensuring the quality of your exercise and cardiovascular activities and make the right choices for you. Be safe…. Be smart

Here’s to your health!

For further information, please call Fitness Together in downtown Naples at 239.263.9348.

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