When we think of walking injuries, we tend to think of muscle straining and knee pain. However, female pear-shaped walkers, with the bulk of their body weight being carried on the hips and thighs, face a unique set of painful problems as they hit the treadmill or take on the great outdoors. Hip and upper thigh pain can be severe for even lightweight and healthy pear-shaped walkers and joggers. However, there are steps you can take to minimize, and perhaps even erase, those nagging aches. Keep the following tips in mind before heading out for your next exercise session to increase endurance and extend your walking time significantly.
First, understand how your body responds to your walking terrain. Just as hills, bumps, holes, and rough surfaces are hard on the knees, the same is true for heavier hips and thighs. The extra weight causes what would already be a normally jarring and strenuous experience to become painful and unnecessarily rough. If at all possible, avoid severe uphill and downhill paths, as well as those with hard-to-run-on surfaces such as sand and gravel, and stay on a smooth track. To counteract the decrease in calories burned and health benefits are seen when transferring from rough terrain to smooth, easy walking paths, add arm pumping exercises as you walk or pick up the pace a bit for an extra lift.
As you take on your new route, take a quick look at how your foot-to-ground walking methods may be increasing your hip and thigh pain. Many women with heavier hips and thighs tend to walk and run in a flat-footed manner, neglecting to pick up their feet properly. Allow your feet to roll with each step, minimizing the impact that your legs and hips receive.
If you’ve ever used walking as your main form of exercise, you know how important the quality of your shoes is. Ideally, you understand the difference between a walking shoe and a running shoe, and you already know that new shoes must be purchased at least once a year. However, how much thought have you put into your socks? While athletes with more even proportions may be able to throw on any old pair, women with heavy hips and thighs must purchase thick, athletic socks created especially for walkers and runners. While they may feel a tad uncomfortable at first, athletic socks also help reduce the shock that your hips receive during walking sessions. Speak to a sales professional at a shoe store specializing in athletic wear about your options, and keep in mind that he/she may suggest purchasing shoes a half size larger if you are used to thin socks (especially if your walks tend to turn into jogs and runs).
On that note, try to avoid even quick after-dinner walks in flip flops and sandals. While a light stroll in non-athletic shoes may seem innocent enough, regularly walking with shoes that cannot evenly distribute the impact can create hip and thigh pain rather quickly.
Next, consider switching from jogging pants and other bulky athletic wear to lightweight shorts for your walking times. Women with heavier hips and thighs tend to want to hide them with dark, long, thick pants during exercise, but doing so adds unnecessary weight to an already burdened area. Longer shorts are available that can offer coverage while making legs feel instantly lighter.
Finally, continue to lighten the load by keeping your walking accessories off the hips or by keeping them small and lightweight. Pedometers, water bottles, cell phones, and jackets add bulk and may increase hip and thigh pain. Minimize your walking accessories by eliminating those you don’t really need, and try to exchange heavier necessities with lighter but equally efficient counterparts. Also, consider carrying your walking gear in your hands, strapping it to your arms, or keeping it in a jacket pocket. Keep as much as you can away from your hip area, as keeping your waistband overloaded with gadgets can cause pain in the end.
Remember, keep it light and minimize the shock. Think about what you can eliminate from your walking wardrobe that might be dragging you down and causing you pain, and get moving with a renewed sense of pain-free energy.