First steps in the COVID-19 new world.
So this is my first blog ever. And what better time to start a blog than in the middle of a pandemic. I aim to shed light on my professional/personal podiatry and healthcare prospectives. Hopefully this project will enlighten our readers and expand the reach of my medical experience to guide people to better foot health.
Since COVID-19 started, all our routines and habits have been altered; some for the better and some for the worse. Let’s dig into some of the better habits and routines that might have improved for some of you readers out there: WALKING MORE!!!!
During the first couple of weeks of our stay-at-home orders, you probably noticed many more people walking outside. We were lucky the weather was cooperative in early April with the sunny warm days. Minus a handful of cooler days, most have been tolerable if not spectacular to get outside.
Hopefully, many of you have walking options. A walk around your neighborhood is always convenient. If your neighborhood doesn’t inspire you enough, how about one of the local parks or trails. Around the 18966 zip code, there are options like Tyler State Park, Core Creek Park, Playwicki Park, Northampton Municipal Park, Washington Crossing Park (the PA and NJ side) and others. Some other awesome walking or running areas include the Delaware Canal Towpath. You might even find a few laps around your local high school track might serve you well too.
I walk for exercise, to clear my head after a stressful day, or just to get a breath of fresh air after being cooped up all day with the busy work of life. What ever your reason, walking is usually a safe and simple low impact activity that has so many benefits (I’ll list them in blog posts some other time).
So if you read this far, maybe you are interested in some advice from a podiatrist. From a foot doctor, here are some basic but important tips. First, wear good shoes!!! If you want to walk more than 50 yards, dress for the occasion. I treat my feet with a very simple concept: what is good for the runner is good for the walker. What I mean is that I wear running shoes for walking and my feet feel great!! I know Ugg boots “feel” good, but you wouldn’t run a marathon in those, nor flip-flops or sandals. I know the warm weather is coming and OMG our feet might get warm when wearing sneakers, but if you don’t wear supportive shoes for your long walks, you may be setting yourself for a lot more foot pain than you deserve (I’ll cover those issues at a later date).
Next… you are getting ready to start walking… so STRETCH!!! I know what you are thinking: “This guy is crazy… I don’t need to stretch before I walk. I never had to before.” Well guess what, you have never been this old before either. The quick tip is to spend 2-3 minutes stretching you calves, ham strings and groin muscles. A little bit goes a long way and the time investment is so small. I will cover this topic in great detail soon, but for now please trust me, it’s never a waste of time to stretch your muscles.
Now you are ready to walk, and you are out the door. Did you forget your COVID-19 face-cover? Better run back in and get that. But do you need to wear it every step while outside? Of course not! If you are walking and there is no one around you there is no public health benefit to wearing a mask. But if you are walking in areas where people are more densely congregated, it’s time to put that mask on. Remember, the mask is protecting others in our community from catching the virus.
Since so many more people are walking, we all need to be courteous to the other walkers and perform thoughtful pedestrian traffic flow. Using side walks is way safer than walking on the road, but what if there is no sidewalk? PA State law says if you are walking on the side of the road, you must walk on the left side, against on-coming traffic. This, believe it or not is to help the pedestrian stay safe. We’ll cover walking road rules in coming episodes. In the near term, please give everyone a wide berth so we all can maintain our safe social distance of at least six feet distance.
This is only the tip of the iceberg with this blog. I’ve got so much to talk about, and time is more plentiful these days. If you like where this blog might be heading, please share the link and pass it on. For now, tell us in the comments your favorite place to walk. Can’t wait to hear from you.
Stay healthy and stay well!!
–Andy Sohl, DPM