Injury Prevention

Walking is one of the most widely-enjoyed exercises. Not only do people engage in walking as they go about their daily lives, but they also walk for both exercise and fun, logging lots of steps each day. For this reason, it is important to know how to prevent walking injuries.

Although walking is a low-impact sport with little risk involved, you can still get injured doing it—especially if you are logging a lot of miles, attending walking challenges, or hiking on rough terrain. It is not uncommon for walkers to experience ankle sprains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and even blisters.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you injure yourself from walking too much?

    Although walking is a natural part of most people's everyday life and one of the most recommended forms of exercise, it is still possible to do too much. If you are walking more than your body can handle, you may notice increased fatigue and a decrease in your ability to walk at the same level as you once did. When this occurs, you may be experiencing overtraining syndrome (OTS).

    Some symptoms of overtraining include chronic injuries, persistently stiff or sore muscles, recurrent headaches, irritability, elevated resting heart rate (RHR), and even depression. If you think that you are overtraining, it is important to cut back and allow your body to rest. You also should contact a healthcare provider to have your symptoms evaluated. It is possible that there is more going on than just overtraining.

  • What are 5 of the most common walking injuries?

    Despite the fact that walking is a safe, low-impact way to exercise, it is still possible to get injured. One common injury among walkers is an ankle sprain. In fact, more than 2 million ankle sprains are treated in emergency departments alone each year. Other common injuries from walking include shin splints, patellofemoral pain syndrome (or runners knee), iliotibial band syndrome, and low back pain. You also might get blisters, especially if you are wearing new shoes, or may even experience plantar fasciitis.

  • How do you prevent a walking injury?

    Although walking is one of the safest ways to exercise, it is still possible to get injured, especially if you do too much too soon. Start out slowly, wear properly fitting shoes, and gradually increase your pace and distance. In fact, shin splints—a common walking injury—may occur because you increase your walking speed and distance too quickly.

    When walking, be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or discomfort and talk to a healthcare provider if it persists. Forcing your body to keep exercising even when you are in pain can exacerbate an injury and make it worse.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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  4. American Heart Association. Preventing injury during your workout.

  5. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Shin splints.

  6. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Plantar fasciitis and bone spurs.

  7. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. Blisters.