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Walk This Way: 4 Ways to Prevent Aches & Pains


The Ache: Lower back pain

The Cause: Tight thigh and hip muscles can cause the lower back to rotate as you stride — "as in mambo dancing," Bowman says — so that it, not your legs, bears the impact.

The Fix: Walk a bit with hands on hips as a cue not to twist.

Try this simple hip stretch

The Ache: Swollen fingers

The Cause: Swinging your arms repetitively pushes blood into your hands, causing them to swell.

The Fix: As you walk, periodically make a fist and release several times, stretching your fingers out.

The Ache: Tingly feet

The Cause: Too snug sneakers and tight calf muscles can restrict blood flow to the toes.

The Fix: Make sure you can fit one finger between the laces and the tongue of your shoe. Stretch your calves before and after your workout: Stand with the balls of your feet on a rolled-up towel, keeping your heels on the ground. Lean forward to find any tight muscles.

The Ache: Sore knees

The Cause: Leaning your upper body forward while walking — "a common misalignment," Bowman says — places more stress on your knees.

The fix: Straighten up; your head and shoulders should be in a line over your hips.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2010.

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