Now that travel restrictions have been lifted more people are planning a much-needed summer vacation. Most of us have been sedentary during the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are not prepared, lower extremity and foot pain may keep you from having fun on your long awaited vacation. However there are things you can do incrementally to prepare before your trip to make it more enjoyable. A little investment in your overall fitness before you go pays big dividends in terms of what you can do on your trip to remain pain-free.
Taking time to prepare your body for a trip may not seem important however most people walk twice as much on a vacation as they would normally. The average person takes 5000 to 10000 steps. On vacation, you may hit 20000 steps a day, close to 10 miles per day. In general, it can take your body from three weeks to three months to really see a significant improvement in your fitness level and to respond to a change in routine. So if you’ve already booked your trip, training for your vacation now to make your trip more enjoyable is as important a booking your reservations and planning your itinerary.
Here are some positive things you can do to get your body ready for a trip and stay pain-free
Begin walking 6-8 weeks before your vacation. If you are not used to walking, start with 10 minutes of walking each day and and gradually work up to 20-30 minutes 3 days a week, increasing your time by 10 percent working up to tolerance on the weekend.
If you plan to buy a new pair of shoes, purchase them 4-6 weeks before your trip. Walk in them before you leave so that you don't end up with a pair of painful, poorly fitting shoes that aren’t supporting you properly.
Stretch and strengthen your lower body daily (glutes, hips, calves, legs and ankle joints).
Walk on uneven terrain and different surfaces to condition your feet to unfamiliar ground.
Identify any lower extremity, foot or ankle problems well in advance and seek professional treatment as needed
Buy a refillable water bottle and get in the habit of drinking 64 oz of water daily. Keep in mind that if you are thirsty you may already be dehydrated.
Focus on strengthening your core muscles; the abdominal, back muscles, and the muscles in your pelvis as they give you balance and flexibility and underpin just about every other physical activity you’ll do.
Spend a few minutes daily on improving your balance to prevent injuries give you more stability. Walking heel-to-toe with your arms out at your side and your eyes looking straight ahead is an easy and effective balance exercise. So is standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time (longer if you can manage) before switching to the other foot.
If you have balance problems pack a foldable walking stick.