Your 10 Biggest Walking Pain, Solved

Why bother reading up on the risks when we all know that walking is one of the easiest and safest kinds of exercise?

A little leg or foot ache might develop into a chronic condition if ignored. The pain that comes with walking or an existing workout injury that walking has aggravated might cause even the most intelligent walkers to stumble.

Even while the first issue may be inconvenient, what comes next is what causes the true harm. You quit working out, lose drive, and your muscles start to deteriorate. We consulted top specialists for advise on how to prevent aches and treat the most typical walking difficulties so that a crippling walking injury wouldn’t keep you from achieving your fitness goals.

Get back to it and join us for our virtual 5k on Saturday, October 1, 2022 once you have resolved your walking concerns. Create the ideal walking experience for you and go for a stroll whenever you choose. Register here and send any inquiries to by email.

1.Plantar fasciitis

Tenderness on the bottom of your foot or heel is how it feels.

What it is: The tissue band that connects your heel bone to the ball of your foot is known as the plantar fascia. Small tears form when the tissue in this dual-purpose shock absorber and arch support is stressed, and the tissue stiffens in reaction as a protective mechanism, resulting in foot pain.

In particular, while wearing firm shoes on concrete, there is very little give as the foot lands, explains Teresa Schuemann, a board-certified physical therapist at Proaxis Therapy in Fort Collins, Colorado, “Walkers can overwork the area when pounding the pavement.”

Any rapid modification or increase in your usual walking regimen can potentially cause inflammation. People who pronate, or walk on the inside of their feet, are more vulnerable. Because the fascia stiffens at night, if you wake up with pain in your heel or arch, you likely have plantar fasciitis. If the issue is not resolved, a buildup of calcium may result, which could lead to the development of a painful, bony protrusion around the heel known as a heel spur.

What to do in response: When your foot’s bottom becomes tight, flex it like this to help the tissue relax: Sit with your affected foot’s ankle crossed over the thigh on the other side. With your palm, pull your toes toward your shin until you feel the arch of your foot stretch. You should feel a taut band of tissue as you run your opposite hand along the sole of your foot. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds while you perform 10. Then, while standing, roll your foot over a golf ball or a full water bottle to massage it.

Always wear supportive sandals or shoes with a moulded footbed to lessen soreness. Select walking shoes with a moderate amount of rigidity in the midsection. According to Syracuse, New York podiatrist and past vice president of the American Association for Women Podiatrists Melinda Reiner, D.P.M., “they should be pliable at the ball but provide stiffness and support at the arch.”

When walking, especially on hard surfaces, orthotic insoles that are available off the market (by Dr. Scholl’s or Vionic, for instance) or professionally designed can assist reduce some of the impact. According to Phillip Ward, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Pinehurst, NC, until you can walk pain-free, adhere to flat, solid, yielding roads (like a level dirt road) and avoid tarmac, sand, and uneven ground that can cause too much flexing around the arch. To prevent tightening as you sleep, ask a podiatrist to prescribe a night splint if your plantar fasciitis worsens. This will keep your foot stabilized in a slightly flexed position.

2. An overgrown nail

What it feels like: Achy or swollen toes on the sides.

What it is: When the sides or corners of your toenails grow sideways instead of forward, pressure is placed on the nearby soft tissues and may even cause the toenail to grow into the skin. If your shoes are too short or too tight, which repeatedly traumatize the toe as you walk, you may be more likely to get ingrown toenails. This is according to Dr. Ward. A long hike or charity walk can put too much pressure on your toenail, which may cause bleeding under the nail and finally cause your toenail to fall out.

Leave some wiggle room in your shoes as a solution. Given that your feet swell when you exercise, you might need to buy sneakers one size larger. When giving yourself a pedicure, cut the toenails straight across rather than rounding the corners using toenail clippers rather than fingernail clippers or scissors.

Dr. Ward advises utilizing inserts to lessen pronation because “those who overpronate as they walk can exacerbate existing problems in the big toes” (walking on the insides of your feet). Have a podiatrist take care of your ingrown toenails if you have diabetes or any other circulation disease.


What it feels like: Big toe pain on the side.

What it is: A bunion is a painful swelling that results from the misalignment of the bones in the joint on the outside of the big or little toe. Walkers who have arthritis, flat feet, or low arches may be more prone to developing bunions.

What to do: According to Dr. Ward, “Wear bigger shoes—especially in the toe box.” Ask your shoe repairman to extend the old ones if you don’t want to spend the money on new shoes. The bunion can be relieved with over-the-counter pads, and ice it for 20 minutes after walking will numb the area. The inflammation might be reduced by ultrasound or other physical therapy procedures. Surgery may be necessary in severe situations to correct the toe joint and remove the bony protrusion.

4.Achilles tendinitis

Pain in the lower leg and the back of your heel is how it feels.

What it is: Excessive walking, especially if you don’t build up to it, might irritate your Achilles tendon, which joins your calf muscle to your heel. Walking up and down steep hills or on uneven terrain repeatedly can also strain the tendon, resulting in lower leg pain.

Reduce your mileage or switch out weight-bearing exercises like swimming or upper-body strength training for moderate cases, as long as doing so doesn’t make the pain worse.

Avoid walking uphill, advises Dr. Schuemann, as this puts more strain on the tendon, irritates it, and weakens it. According to Michael J. Mueller, P.T., Ph.D., a professor of physical therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, regular calf stretches may also help avoid Achilles tendonitis. If the injury is severe, limit or stop walking while applying cold packs to the area for 15 to 20 minutes, up to three or four times per day, to minimize swelling and pain. When you start walking again, maintain your foot neutral by sticking to flat surfaces, and gradually increase your distance and energy.

Also Read ABout How to Do a Weighted Side Plank
5. Lumbar ache

What it feels like: Lower to midback pain

What it is: While walking often doesn’t cause lower back discomfort, the repetitive motion can exacerbate an existing issue. When the tendons and ligaments surrounding the spine are overworked, it is simple to “throw out your back.” Pain in this area can also be brought on by arthritis or inflammation of the nearby nerves.

What to do about it: Maintain strong trunk muscles to prevent generalized back discomfort. Pulling your belly button toward your spine while walking will help you work your abs as though you were trying to flatten your belly to zip up tight jeans.

Avoid bending over at the waist, which is a tendency while moving quickly or ascending a slope, advises Dr. Schuemann. Instead, maintain a long spine and slant your entire body slightly forward starting at your ankles.

A quick pull exercise that realigns your posture may also help to prevent slumping. Even while you’re walking, you can use it! Simply raise your arms as if you were pulling a shirt up over your head and cross your arms at the wrists in front of your waist. As you reach up, stand higher. Then, as you lower your arms, let your shoulders fall into place. Keep in mind that tight hamstrings and hip flexors can also lead to postural abnormalities that exert strain on the lower back.


Pain between your toes or on the ball of your foot is how it feels.

How it works:An area may experience tingling, numbness, or discomfort if the tissue around a nerve close to the base of the toes thickens. You can experience the sensation of walking on marbles. Morton’s neuroma is a disorder that usually appears between the bases of the third and fourth toes. Women can experience it up to five times more frequently than males, which may be related to the way women’s feet are built differently and the fact that they frequently wear very flat, high-heeled, or small shoes. Walking might aggravate a Morton’s neuroma, according to Dr. Ward.

What to do: Depending on the severity of the neuroma, treatment options range from wearing roomier shoes to surgery. When foot discomfort initially appears, consult a podiatrist right away because it can get worse very rapidly. Make sure the toe box of your walking shoes is roomy. Limit the amount of time you spend walking about in heels, and if you must, travel in comfortable footwear like supportive ballet flats before changing into the more fashionable pair. Additionally, OTC insoles or pads that reduce pressure and absorb shock might be useful.

7.Shin splints

What it feels like: Your shins may be stiff or aching.

What it is: Foot-pounding exercises like walking and running can harm the muscles and surrounding tissues and cause inflammation since your shins must support up to six times your body weight as you exercise. Strong calves tugging repeatedly on lesser muscles close to the shin causes tension and leg pain.

As an orthopedic surgeon in Eatonton, Georgia named Frank Kelly, M.D. explains, “Walkers who walk too much, too quickly, too rapidly, or who go up a lot of hills are susceptible to this injury because the foot has to flex more with each step, which overworks the shin muscles. This kind of irritation can also result from excessively long periods of time spent walking on concrete. A tibial stress fracture could potentially be the cause of severe or localized shin pain.

The best course of action is to reduce your walking for three to eight weeks to allow the tissues to heal. Joel Press, M.D., physiatrist-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and professor of rehabilitative medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, advises, “If it hurts to walk, avoid it.” To minimize swelling and ease discomfort, you might require cold packs or an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. Maintain your fitness in the interim by mixing up your workouts with low-impact activities like cycling or swimming. To help prevent a recurrence, you should also strengthen the anterior tibialis muscles in the front of the lower leg.

Use this easy exercise: 20 times, pull your toes toward your shins while standing. Work your way up to three sets, and as you gain strength, you can add more resistance by putting a 2- or 3-pound ankle weight across your toes.

When you’re prepared to walk once more, pick a dirt route and stroll for 20 minutes at a brisk pace. Every week, increase the distance or the speed a little. When exercising again, go even more gently, advises Byron Russell, P.T., Ph.D., director of the physical therapy department at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, if your shins start to feel sore.

Also Read ABout How to Do a Weighted Side Plank


What it feels like: Achy hips on the outside.

What it is: Repetitive stress frequently leads the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the hip joint to become inflamed, despite the fact that there are numerous other possible reasons of hip discomfort. People who have one leg that is a little longer than the other are more prone to get this hip pain. Another factor could be doing too much walking too quickly.

What to do: For a few weeks, Dr. Kelly advises avoiding weight-bearing activities like walking in favour of riding a stationary bike, swimming, or engaging in other non-weight-bearing activities. She also advises taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug to reduce pain. “Don’t just pick up walking where you left off when you start up again. Start out slowly by going for a walk every other day. Spend the first five minutes slowly warming up and the latter five minutes at a slower, cooling down pace, he advises. In more extreme circumstances, you might need to momentarily relieve pressure with a cane or crutches.

9. Runner’s knee

What it feels like: A throbbing sensation just above the kneecap

What it is: Your knee feels each time your shoe makes contact with the ground. The bone that links your knee to your hip, the femur, and your kneecap may eventually begin to rub against one another, resulting in tendonitis and cartilage damage. The chance of developing runner’s knee increases in walkers who have a misaligned kneecap, a history of injury, weak or unbalanced thigh muscles, fragile knee cartilage, flat feet, or who just walk too much. Knee pain typically occurs while walking downhill, bending your knees, or sitting for an extended period of time.

Change your exercise until the pain in your knees goes away, which usually takes 8 to 12 weeks. Do these quad strengthening exercises to improve the support surrounding your knee and to align the kneecap: Back against the wall, left leg straight out in front of you, right leg bent with foot flat on the floor. Lift your left leg while keeping your foot flexed and contract your quadriceps. Up to three sets each leg, repeat 12 times. Place a looped band around both feet while you’re standing and sidestep 12 to 15 times to the right before returning to the left. Take smaller steps and avoid bending your knees too far when walking or climbing downhill. You may also try walking sideways to work your side hip muscles.

10.Stress fracture

Acute discomfort in your foot or lower leg is how it feels.

What it is: A stress fracture, or small crack in a bone, may be present if you experience soreness or pain when you press on a particular area of your foot or lower leg. Because the shock is absorbed by the bone rather than the muscle, they tend to happen when your lower leg muscles are overworked by repetitive stress. For example, if you ignore shin splints, the strain on your muscles and soft tissues will eventually migrate to your bone.

If you walk for too long without warming up, especially if you have high arches or inflexible, flat feet, you run a higher risk of developing a stress fracture. Because women often have less bone density and muscular mass than men, they may be more susceptible to shocks.

What to do: Take it easy for a few weeks while your foot or leg discomfort heals. Sheila Dugan, M.D., a physiatrist and interim chair of Rush Medical College’s department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, advises getting off your feet to prevent loading the bones. Replace walking with swimming, water aerobics, or upper-body weight exercise.

When you return to your regular schedule, stop before you notice discomfort. “If you walk 1 mile and have symptoms again, slow down and start walking a quarter mile and take several weeks to build up to the longer distance,” says Russell.

Replace your walking shoes when the interior cushioning has worn down, to ensure that you have adequate shock absorption. To optimize bone health, do lower-body strength-training twice a week and eat calcium-rich foods like yogurt and cheese and greens such as kale, or take a supplement if your doctor feels you need one. You should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium a day (1,200 mg if you’re 51 or older).

Also Read ABout How to Do a Weighted Side Plank