If you are wondering why your body hurts when walking, this article introduces a new perspective on preventing the pain and keeping you on the walking trail.
By Butch Phelps
During the pandemic many of my clients have turned to walking for better fitness. The pandemic forced us into finding ways to get moving. Everywhere I look I see many people walking. Not surprising I am getting new clients that are suffering from plantar fasciitis, low back stiffness, and even neck and shoulder pain. Every one of them said, the pain did not start until they started walking. They are so disappointed that their body hurts when walking when they want to walk pain-free and worry-free.
A String of Frustration
Each time a new person shows up at my office, they begin telling their story of pain and what they have done to stop the pain. Then when their own treatments don’t work, they seek a professional for help with no better results.
What hurts? The feet, back, shoulder, neck?
Typically for foot pain, they are sold expensive shoes designed for walking or designed for what appears to be a default in their foot like supination or pronation. If that doesn’t work, they may be given a boot to stabilize the foot, or a night splint for heel pain and told to stop walking. If it continues to get worse, they may get injections or worse yet surgery.
For low back pain, most will begin wearing an elastic back brace and when that doesn’t work, a pro will give them a harder back brace. Some are given core strengthening exercises. Again they are told to stop walking and later injections if needed. For neck and shoulder pain, they may have their necks adjusted, wear a neck collar, or try to do strength training exercises to strengthen their upper backs.
The Source of the Problem When Your Body Hurts When Walking
The whole reason you began walking was to feel better, improve your health, and get out into fresh air. How can it be that doing something good for you can cause you more pain?
The reason is pretty simple; most professionals are treating the wrong thing. When you have foot pain, they treat the foot. When you have low back pain, they treat the back and the same for neck and shoulder pain. But wait, that sounds logical, right?
I am amazed every day at how many times I hear these stories and more, then apply my simple techniques and the pain goes away, sometimes within 24 hours. I have spent years getting my head wrapped around how what I see is so different from most people see.
Our bodies are balancing machines. We balance side-to-side and front-to-back 100% of the time. The calves and feet control nearly all of the balancing. Yet we have created shoes to help with these foot problems without realizing that it is not the foot. What we feel in our foot is the symptom because the source of the pain is from the calf.
Here is something that you may not realize even though it is hiding in plain sight. Your calves can cause low back pain and even neck pain. The sequence starts in our feet which are controlled by our calves.
The Problem with Shoes
So, you head out for your morning walk, put on your sneakers designed for walking. Most walking shoes come with arch supports, heel supports, and extra cushion on the sole. We should feel great and we do initially.
Each time we take a step the arch support prevents the arch muscle from expanding and working like a spring to absorb the impact of hitting the ground. The heel support forces you to walk heel-to-toe. Bet you thought that was how you are supposed to walk!
The extra cushion reduces the nerve sensations in the bottom of your feet which alert your brain of any changes in the ground level. Plus, with the thicker sole, the foot cannot bend. This prohibits the ankle from bending preventing the four calf muscles from actually working. These shoes force you to walk using your upper front thighs which can leave you with low back stiffness.
Your pelvis is also forced forward which increases compression on the lower spine. When this happens, the whole torso begins to lean forward leading to neck and shoulder fatigue and stiffness.
Have you ever watched a friend walk and it looks like their head is in front of their chest? Watch how they walk. Their feet barely bend, and their stride is short.
You may have done everything you were told to do to prevent the pain, but the pain is still there because the source of the problem has not been addressed. I know it is frustrating, but what you are told is either not correct or incomplete.
Take Care of Your Calves First
First off, the calf stretches we have all been given are not stretching the calves at all. If you lean against a wall, step, or curb, you have never stretched your calves. Any gadget that you step into and lean forward to stretch your calves, will not stretch your calves, because you have four calf muscles.
The calf muscles allow your foot to move vertically, laterally, and rotationally. If your focus is on the back of your heel, you are stretching your Achilles tendon, which is good, but it is not stretching your calves.
Check out the video of the calf stretch, Here.
Stiff calves that have not been stretched properly or thoroughly cause plantar fasciitis, low back stiffness, and neck pain. Once they are stretched out, you can learn how to walk correctly which will prevent the pain you have been dealing with forever. The trick is, these stretches are a daily event. Watch your pet and you will see them stretch every day and you should too.
Walking correctly means feeling the toes of your back foot propelling you forward. This will require more flexible shoes and more flexible calves and feet. Massage your feet daily so they can become as soft as your hands. Massage the feet on the top and the bottom. As they become softer your balance will improve and the stability of standing will improve. Once you get your body prepared to walk, you can enjoy walking without the pain.
Where to Start
We’re happy to offer you a complimentary 30-min virtual consultation so you can experience this for yourself. Schedule your introduction to Stretch n Release now.
About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.