Look after your feet they will walk you to great health If you are looking to get fitter and healthier, why not undertake an activity that comes naturally to us all. Walking is good for you, free and can fit around even the busiest lifestyle. We have collated a number of resources to inspire and guide you to greater fitness through walking.
We show you why walking is so good for you, give examples of fitness programs, the equipment required, where & who to walk with and how walking impacts on your feet.
Your feet are for life so it is vital that you care for your feet and take preventative measures to ensure they remain healthy. Here you will find tips on foot problems associated with walking and why, when and how you should seek the advice of a podiatrist.
Benefits of walking
Walking is good for you and if done at a brisk pace for regular exercise it helps condition your body and improve overall cardiovascular health in the same way running and jogging do. But compared with running, walking carries a significantly lower risk of injury, it reduces stress and gives you time to clear your head and aids better sleep. It's the nearest thing to 'perfect' exercise in terms of a safe, all-round workout and it doesn't cost a penny or need any special equipment.
What walking does to your feet?
In an average lifetime, we walk about 100,000 miles, which is tough on our feet. Yet our bodies were designed for moving not standing still, so walking is good exercise. Walking helps the muscles and ligaments in our feet to work more efficiently, and helps keep them supple and flexible.
So even if you have to sit around a lot in your job or at home, try to get up and walk briskly for at least 30 minutes every day. Feet are adaptable and can withstand a lot of pressure before they rebel. If you walk a lot, it’s important to wear the right footwear (link to footwear section) which won’t damage your feet.
Foot Problems associated with walking
How a podiatrist can help you keep walking
Consult your podiatrist if you start to develop pain when walking, or consider a visit before embarking on your new walking programme.
The main role of the podiatrist is to help you maintain normal mobility and function in the feet and lower limbs. Podiatrists provide the basis for the ideal walking style and posture and identify any conditions that may require further referral and management. They also relieve pain, treat infections and skin, nail, soft tissue and connective tissue problems. This is achieved in conjunction with other members of a multi-disciplinary health care team. Podiatrists can also give expert advice on footwear, so it is a good idea to take your walking shoes with you when you go to see your podiatrist.
How to contact a podiatrist
To find a local podiatrist, you can either approach your GP practice for an NHS referral, (in some areas you can self-refer) or if you decide to see a private practice podiatrist visit our Find a Podiatrist section.
May is National Walking Month and includes Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2016) so there are plenty of things to engage with.
Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.
This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.
As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.
Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?
Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.
As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.
The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.
How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?
In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.
This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.
Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care.
It is with
this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals
and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable
disease such as diabetes.
Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry
We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account. We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.