Walking can be an excellent way to improve health, especially after a certain age or to treat certain conditions. A walking holiday isn’t necessarily ‘Doctor recommended’, as it can be a great pleasure to enjoy good scenery, exercise and the feeling of accomplishment, regardless of your health needs. But an exertive walk can be good for health in a variety of ways, including:
- Improving heart conditions
- Resolving weight related issues
- Prevention and control of diabetes
- Strengthening of bones and muscles
However, despite the health benefits, a walking holiday has its own health risks and it is important to prepare properly.
Below is some key advice to consider when planning your Walking Holiday.
It is important to build up to the right level of exertion. Without training to toughen up the muscles, bones and other bodily tissues, a sustained long walk may lead to a painful injury, which could include:
- Stress Fractures
- Shin Splints
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Strains & Sprains
It is advisable to start with a 15-30 minute walk and train each day, building by approximately 1 mile per week. This will create the muscle and physical resilience to deal with a sustained walk.
This advice can be considered in conjunction with my general advice on getting fit and healthy.
Bad posture of inefficiency in the way your body moves habitually can lead to a range of painful conditions. Your musculoskeletal frame is involved in keeping you upright and depends on your lower limbs and a sensible gait. Prolonged exertion with poor posture or poor walking technique can give rise to issues like:
- Back or Neck Pain
- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
If you are planning on training towards a demanding Walking Holiday, for example walking more than 10-12 km per day, then it may be advisable to see a biomechanical or musculoskeletal specialist for a gait analysis.
A gait analysis will allow the specialist to identify issues with the way you move and recommend a treatment. This might include simple stretches and exercises, or orthotics and splints to nudge your body into a correct, healthy posture.
Good Shoes! It cannot be overstated how important it is to have appropriate footwear for your walking holiday. Your shoes should have:
- Good Arch Support
- Stable Heels
- Good Cushioning
- Good Ankle Support
If your feet become too painful during your walk the whole holiday will be ruined. You should not walk through severe or acute pain.
If you are carrying a lot of equipment, such as camping equipment, then a rucksack that has good back and hip support is essential. It is advisable to wear this during your training, or you may not be sufficiently prepared.
First Aid Kit – If you are walking in remote locations it is important to bring a basic first aid kit, which will include, plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes. This will allow you to solve most basic walking injuries, such as blisters, cuts or scrapes, without having to turn back or exacerbate the problem by continuing.
It is recommended to not drastically change the kinds of food you normally eat during a walking holiday. Your body is accustomed to powering your activities through your current diet. It is worth bringing food you are happy to consume while walking and eating little and often rather than large meals. High carb food can be a good foundation of your walking diet, as it releases energy slowly over the course of the day.
Stay Hydrated – Drink regularly and make sure you have enough water. You should not be waiting until you are thirsty to drink.
Seek Professional Advice
If you are unsure about how to plan and train for your Walking Holiday or your general fitness regime then there are professionals who can help you.
At my practice, I work closely with an expert team of medical and complementary healthcare practitioners, who I trust to care and make a difference for my patients, including:
- Gait Specialists
If you have any further questions or would like to book in, please do get in touch:
Tel. 07540 123 227
Address. 27 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QP