6 Walking Pains You Shouldn't Ignore

6 Walking Pains You Shouldn't Ignore

You know the old saying "pain is weakness leaving your body?" It's catchy and helps you push through those intense workouts, but what does it mean?

Does it mean you're supposed to feel pain? When is pain bad? That's the confusing part of fitness. Aches are associated with exercise, especially delayed onset muscle soreness. "No pain, no gain," they say.

Related - Try This 6-Week Walking Plan

It takes having an awareness of your body. The ability to "check in" on a pain to see if it's from a current activity or if that twinge may have been a sign to stop.

Grayson Wickham is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, physical therapist and founder of Movement Vault, a company that helps clients increase their mobility and flexibility. “Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is not right, and you could have previous damage or a developing injury,” he says.

So when it comes to trying to distinguish between something you should push through or dial it back some, here are six different pains you should not ignore.

Before we start, if you ever experience chest, shoulder, mid-back, or arm pain along with shortness of breath, lightheadedness, cold sweats, or nausea, these are signs of a serious heart problem such as a heart attack.

Seek attention immediately.

Walking Hurts

#1 - Shin Pain

Shin pain come from developing shin splints. These are tiny stress fractures that form along your shin bones.

What You Could Try

Get some rest — especially if you've been pushing it a little hard. Shin splints usually show up when you push yourself too hard, too fast. If you usually take walks around your neighborhood, going for that 10k hike over the weekend could cause shin splints.

You could go to the physical therapist and let them analyze your walking patterns. They will be able to form a strengthening plan and help improve your walking mechanics and stop shin pain from coming back.

#2 - Swollen and Tender Front Knee

I know this pain all too well.

A possible diagnosis for a swollen and tender front knee is tendonitis or damage to the tendon that connects to your knee cap. It could also be a hurt meniscus, which is the connective tissue between your upper and lower leg bones.

What You Could Try

If you are in six out of ten on a pain scale and it isn't going away with rest, you should head to the doctor and have a diagnosis. They will be able to develop a recovery plan that could involve limiting some movements but adding in a daily stretching routine.

This could include things like a pre-walk foam roll and other dynamic stretches.

"Often, both tendonitis and meniscus issues stem from tight muscles and joints or a lack of mobility," says Wickham. When you have tight hips or ankles (like me), your knees have to make up for that. This causes over-stressed knees, resulting in pain.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes could improperly load the body which could worsen your knee pain.

#3 - Heel Pain

If you ever have that dull, achy pain in your heel that just seems to spread along the bottom of your foot? It hurts worse in the morning or walking up stairs, or maybe just after you start walking after a long period of sitting.

This could be plantar fasciitis and it is caused from irritation of the connective tissue that spans from your heel to your toes.

What You Could Try

If you've been upping your step count lately, try to reduce your intensity some. Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury and usually begins with excessive walking or weight-bearing activities without proper stability and support muscles in your feet.

As you push through the pain, it could get worse and start causing you to walk in an odd pattern, resulting in more injuries. It's been nine years since my ankle surgery and I still have ankle pain.

Be sure to buy shoes that are properly fitted.

#4 - Lower Back Pain

Just like with a barbell back squat, walking has a "form" you should follow. If you do not walk with proper form, you could cause a lumbar strain or you could have a muscle tear in your lower back.

What You Could Try

Ignoring your lower back pain could make your back tighten up even more. This creates a cycle of muscle loss and increased weakness that leads to more injuries.

Try a physical therapist — they can prescribe stretches and exercises that will strengthen your back and keep this from happening again.

#5 - Cramping or Swollen Calf

If your calf looks red, swollen, or even tender and warm to the touch, it could be deep vein thrombosis. This is when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your legs.

In rare but life-threatening situation, it could dislodge and travel to your lungs.

What You Could Try

Play it safe with this one and head to the doctor. They will be able to give you a quick doppler ultrasound at the office and indicate whether your pain is related to a clot or if it is something more musculoskeletal in nature.

If they do find a clot, the doctor will give you some blood-thinning medication to help dissolve the clot and prevent new ones from forming.

Your doctor will also have you do leg exercises to increase the blood flow to your legs like walking. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, walking is key for avoiding deep vein thrombosis. Sitting still for a long time, having a recent lower-body injury or a hip or leg surgery all increases your chances for developing DVT.

#6 - Pins and Needles From the Back of Your Leg to Your Foot

If you have what feels like a knife or electrical pain down the back of your leg to your foot along with tingling, numbness, and muscle spasms, it could be from irritation in your sciatic nerve.

It could feel like you have a weird muscle cramp or pins and needles that will often get worse once you start walking.

What You Could Try

Walking is a repetitive exercise that could cause misalignments in your lower back, which causes a tightened piriformis muscle, compressing your sciatic nerve. This cues the shock waves of pain in your leg and foot.

Sciatica generally heals itself over several weeks, but you'll need a full exam to pinpoint the source of your pain.

Rest and light movement is advised, along with some over-the-counter pain medication and some soothing hot and cold presses. This can lessen the symptoms while it heals.

You may want to check out a chiropractor to help with any alignment issues you may have.

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