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Walking Into Spring
Springtime Benefits — and Hazards — to Your Health E ach year, as the weather warms up and the ice melts off our lakes and rivers, I get excited about being on the boat and out on the water again. Boating is one of my favorite warm-weather activities, and I’ve often found that the boat is the only place where I can completely relax and take my mind off work. I spend these warm days basking in the sunshine and soaking up memories with my family. It’s picture-perfect. But as we get closer to spring, I’m also looking forward to many other outdoor activities, including one I’m hoping to make more of a regular hobby again. Biking is an activity I picked up in 2006. It’s a great form of exercise that works a variety of different joints throughout the body. It promotes healthy endurance, and best of all, it allows me to soak in the sunshine. The sun can be a valuable resource for your overall health. Sunshine provides the body with a natural way to produce vitamin D, and while supplements can help you fill in the gaps of your vitamin deficiencies, nothing can beat a natural source. Taking in the sun’s benefits does your bones and your mood a favor. Studies have shown that vitamin D is crucial to supporting bone health, and studies on seasonal depressive disorder have shown that long days without the sun and the vitamin D it provides can have a dramatic, negative effect on your mood. Just be sure to wear a hat and some sunscreen as you enjoy the sun. If you’re not one to hop on a bike, one of the easiest ways to relish in the spring and summer sun is to walk. Like biking, walking is a good way to move nearly every part of your body, and it stimulates otherwise stagnant joints that might be stiff or strained from long periods of sitting or standing. Our bodies were designed to be in motion, yet so much of our lives is focused on being still. Walking is a great remedy for this. However, walking without paying attention to what your body is telling you is dangerous. Improper movements or situations can have a negative effect on your joints, sciatic nerve, lower back, knees, and hips. The biggest culprit behind this pain may be the equipment you choose for your feet. When our
shoes don’t offer proper support, our feet suffer, and when our
feet are in pain, ripple effects are felt throughout our entire bodies.
Wearing a shoe designed for the shape of your feet that supports
your movements is the best way to prevent injury while enjoying the positive effects of walking. Shoe salespeople can measure your feet for the correct shoe size, but they are only looking to make money off your need for shoes. Once you have the correct size, a medical professional can help you determine the proper fit and level of stability needed for your movements. At Stretch Physical Therapy and Total Wellness, our walking consultations can help you discover the kinds of shoes you should use, lifts you can wear that are both practical and fashionable, and ways to prevent injuries and pain from walking. This consultation can help you avoid problems in the future, and it can give you the optimal lift and motion needed to make walking as beneficial as possible for your body. (See this month’s insert for a special offer on our walking consultations!) Don’t let the fear of pain keep you indoors this spring. Lace up shoes made just for you, soak in the sunshine, and enjoy a fresh walk with friends, neighbors, and family. After a long winter indoors, your body will thank you. See you out on the trails!
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