Dangers of sandals

Correct Footwear: Paul wearing essential safety footwear for his recent walking trip in Morocco
Correct Footwear: Paul wearing essential safety footwear for his recent walking trip in Morocco

Over the last few weeks its been great to watch, and be part of, what seems to be a growing number of people getting active in Hartlepool.

May is National Walking Month, one of the most perfect months of the year to get out and enjoy the fresh air and the sights of the town.

On the face of it, walking appears a really safe way to keep fit. But there are a few things I’d like you to understand to make your walk as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible.

Your foot is an incredibly complex part of your body. So its common for lots of things to go wrong and for pain to come on if you neglect things like wearing proper footwear, the surface your walking on and even other injuries that you might have.

If you love a gentle evening stroll along the sea front whilst chatting with a friend, then a simple pair of cushioned trainers will do.

Be careful with some of the designer trainers, or plimsole-style trainers though as they offer very little support to your ankles and will pull on the Achilles muscle at the back of your leg.

A similar thing can happen if you wear flip-flops or sandals. And this is a particular problem for ladies in the summer months that chose to ditch their high heels in favor of sandals.

Don’t be surprised if after a two-week holiday where you’ve been wearing flats all day, if you develop a pain in and around the back of your ankle. Think of stretching an elastic band really tight – the tension increases as you do and its similar effect happening to your Achilles and calf muscles muscle that could be causing you pain.

Walking along the beach at seaton is one thing, but if your a bit more adventurous and like to walk up something like Roseberry Topping or even fancy a trip to the Lakes, then your footwear has to be much more sturdy.

I recently did a walk up a mountain called Touberkall in Morocco, at 4,000 feet above sea level it is the highest mountain in the North Africa and for that I had to favor comfort and safety, over style and opt for proper walking boots.

If you are planning any walks on a hilly or gravelly surface, you should too. One tip for purchasing an expensive pair of walking shoes, know that the best time to have your feet measured is late morning/mid afternoon as your feet swell during the day.

First thing on a morning, you might not get an accurate fit.

And one final thing on walking. If you’re already suffering from something like a bad or stiff back, or have arthritic knees, its best to avoid hilly and uneven surfaces.

Both of these combine to mean that your much more likely to have an even more swollen knee, or even stiffer back due to the extra pressure and force. Walking on a flat, even surface is much healthier and will limit any problems enough to still allow you to enjoy your walk for years to come.