Maybe you’re just starting a walking routine or you’re a walking veteran with years of brisk daily walks under your belt. Either way, it’s no fun when aches and pains slow you down or even send you back to the couch. But not all pain is created equal, and while some pains are just inconvenient or uncomfortable, you should know when to call your doctor.
Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis, when the band of tissue that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot is strained, according to Prevention. Pain in your heel or arch first thing in the morning is a common sign. Stretching and supportive shoes are a must, or you can try cold packs or shoe inserts, according to the Harvard Health Letter. Call your doctor if the condition persists.
Calf pain that primarily shows up on one or both sides of the lower calf may be due to spinal stenosis, a condition in which a narrowed spinal canal results in compressed nerves. According to the Harvard Health Letter, symptoms often worsen during the day, so you may choose morning walks instead of evening walks. If you experience pain while walking, take breaks until the pain subsides.
Knee pain that feels like a throbbing in front of the kneecap is often a simple case of runner’s knee, according to Prevention. Try another type of exercise, like cycling or swimming, for a few weeks until the pain subsides. You might also consider some exercises to strengthen your quads and help support your knee for future activity.
Pain throughout the leg that occurs every time you start activity and stops when you finish could be a sign of peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. According to Duke Health, PAD occurs when major blood vessels that supply blood to limbs become fully or partially blocked by fatty deposits. If you’re obese, a smoker, diabetic or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you may be at increased risk for PAD. If you have leg pain that starts and stops with activity, contact your doctor. A variety of treatments are available, and the earlier the condition is treated, the better.