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WELLNESS: Play it safe when walking or running, say physios

British Columbians love to run and walk, and both are both great ways to keep fit.

British Columbians love to run and walk, and both are both great ways to keep fit.

But they're not without risk and new runners and people starting to walk for exercise need to do so safely, according to a press release from the Physiotherapy Association of BC (PABC).

"It's really easy to get injured while walking or running," says Rebecca Tunnacliffe, association CEO. "Many people just head out the door without a second thought, however wearing the proper footwear and ensuring you are following a graduated program to help build up your body's fitness are key.

"By following our 'Physio-4' and consulting with a physiotherapist to set up the right program for your age and level of fitness, you will prevent injuries, alleviate pain and keep moving for life."

Below are PABC's four tips for running and walking to keep you moving for life:

Proper footwear is essential for walkers and runners. The proper shoe can help maximize your efficiency and minimize your risk of injury. Try on many, then select the shoe with the best shape for your foot. Your physiotherapist will assess whether arch supports or custom orthotics are necessary to improve your gait.

Start off slowly and build up your strength. If you have been injured or are new to walking and running, follow a graduated program to help build your body's tolerance to the stresses of running and walking. Too much, too soon can cause re-injury and unnecessary soreness.

Walkers and runners are prone to overuse injuries. These are often due to imbalances in strength and flexibility that you can correct through therapeutic exercises. Your physiotherapist can create a program designed specifically for you.

Choose walking or running to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Weight-bearing exercise provides controlled stress to your bones, helping to improve or maintain bone density. Your physiotherapist can help you develop a program specifically designed to maximize your bone health.

For more information, visit the Physiotherapy Association of BC website,