Walking Do's and Don'ts For Active Seniors

Rear view of senior woman on a walk with her pet dog in a field

Walking is vital for older adults, offering numerous health benefits. However, common walking mistakes can lead to injuries and pain. This blog will explore four major mistakes we make while walking and some holistic practices for pain management, including CBD, herbal supplements and other exercises. These mistakes include poor posture, overstriding, improper footwear, lack of warm-up, and ignoring pain. By addressing these mistakes, active adults can improve their walking experience and avoid injuries. Additionally, holistic practices like CBD and herbal supplements, known for their potential pain-relieving properties, can offer relief. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating these practices. By adopting healthy walking habits and exploring holistic pain management, seniors can enhance their well-being and continue to enjoy the benefits of walking in their golden years.

Mistake 1: Poor posture and alignment

Poor posture can have significant impacts on the body, especially while walking as an older adult. It puts unnecessary stress on the muscles, joints, and ligaments, leading to discomfort and increasing the risk of injuries. Slouching or hunching forward can strain the neck and upper back, while a rounded lower back can contribute to lower back pain. Additionally, poor posture can impair balance and stability, making falls more likely in seniors.

Maintaining proper posture while walking is essential for seniors to prevent pain and injury. Here are some tips to help improve posture:

Keep your head up:

Look forward, aligning your head with your spine. Avoid tilting your head down or looking at the ground.

Align your shoulders:

Pull your shoulders back and down, allowing them to naturally align with your spine. Avoid rounding or hunching them forward.

Engage your core:

Draw your belly button towards your spine to activate the core muscles. This helps to stabilize the spine and maintain good posture.

Relax your arms:

Let your arms swing naturally and loosely by your sides. Avoid tension in the shoulders or excessive swinging.

Straighten your back:

Keep your spine elongated and maintain a neutral position, neither overly arched nor excessively rounded.

Strengthening the core muscles is vital for supporting proper posture. Exercises that target the abdominals, back muscles, and hips can help improve posture and stability. Examples include planks, bridges, bird-dogs, and pelvic tilts. Additionally, incorporating activities like yoga or Pilates can improve overall posture and body awareness.

Mistake 2: Overstriding and heel striking

Overstriding, which refers to taking excessively long steps, and heel striking, where the heel hits the ground first with each step, can have negative effects on the joints and muscles. Overstriding increases the impact on the knees and hips, potentially leading to joint pain and discomfort. Heel striking causes a sudden jolt of force through the legs, impacting the knees, ankles, and calves, which can result in shin splints or Achilles tendonitis.

To maintain a natural stride and midfoot strike while walking, consider the following techniques:

Stride length:

Take shorter, more frequent steps to prevent overstriding. This helps to distribute the impact more evenly throughout the body, reducing strain on the joints.

Foot strike:

Aim for a midfoot strike, where the foot lands with the heel and ball of the foot hitting the ground simultaneously. This allows for a smoother transition of forces and helps to absorb shock efficiently.

Posture and alignment:

Maintain proper posture and alignment while walking, as discussed in Mistake 1. This supports a natural stride and encourages a midfoot strike.


Increase your walking cadence, or step rate, to around 120-130 steps per minute. This promotes a more balanced and efficient stride, reducing the tendency to overstride.

By focusing on maintaining a natural stride and midfoot strike, seniors can minimize the impact on their joints and muscles, reducing the likelihood of pain and injury while walking. Remember, small adjustments in stride length and foot strike can make a significant difference in promoting a more efficient and comfortable walking experience.

Mistake 3: Improper footwear

As crazy as it sounds, neglecting proper footwear can have a significant impact on foot health. Wearing ill-fitting shoes or those lacking proper support can lead to a range of foot problems, including bunions, plantar fasciitis, corns, and calluses. Inadequate footwear can also contribute to poor balance and stability, increasing the risk of falls and injuries in many seniors.

When selecting shoes for walking, consider the following tips for ensuring proper support:

Support and cushioning:

Choose shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning to absorb impact and reduce stress on the joints and muscles. Good support and cushioning help distribute the forces of walking more evenly, minimizing the risk of injuries.

Fit and stability:

Ensure that the shoes fit properly, providing ample support and stability to prevent excessive foot movement while walking. Shoes that are too loose or too tight can affect your gait and increase the chances of discomfort or foot-related problems.


Opt for shoes that allow natural foot movement and flexibility to promote a more natural stride. A shoe with a flexible sole and ample toe room allows your foot to move more naturally, promoting a healthier and more comfortable stride. Avoid shoes with stiff soles that restrict the natural movement of your feet.

Replace worn-out shoes:

Regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and replace them when necessary. Worn-out shoes may lack the necessary support and cushioning, increasing the risk of injuries. Look for signs of wear on the soles, insole, and heel, and if you notice any significant deterioration, it's time to invest in a new pair of shoes.

Orthotic Options:

Exploring orthotic options can provide additional support and help address specific foot issues. Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts designed to provide arch support, cushioning, and proper alignment. They can be particularly beneficial for seniors with flat feet, high arches, or other foot conditions. Consulting with a podiatrist or a healthcare professional can help determine if orthotics are appropriate and provide guidance on the best options for specific needs of older adults.

By prioritizing proper footwear and support, you can promote foot health, improve balance and stability, and reduce the risk of foot-related problems. Remember to regularly assess the condition of your shoes and replace them when necessary. Investing in good-quality supportive shoes and considering orthotic options can make a significant difference in enhancing overall walking comfort and minimizing the risk of foot injuries for active adults.

Mistake 4: Lack of warm-up and cool-down

Neglecting to warm up and cool down before and after walking can have negative consequences on the body. Warm-up exercises are crucial for preparing the muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system for activity. They increase blood flow to the muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance range of motion. Skipping warm-up can increase the risk of muscle strains, pulls, and other injuries in older adults.

Incorporating dynamic stretching exercises into your warm-up routine is highly beneficial. Dynamic stretching involves active movements that mimic the actions you'll perform during walking. Examples of dynamic stretches include:

Leg swings:

Stand near a support (e.g., a wall or railing) for balance. Swing one leg forward and backward like a pendulum, gently increasing the range of motion with each swing. This exercise helps loosen up the hip joints and prepares the leg muscles for walking.

Shoulder circles:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly lift your shoulders up towards your ears, roll them back, and then down. Shoulder circles help warm up the shoulder joints and upper back muscles.

Ankle rotations:

Sit on a chair or stand with feet hip-width apart. Lift one foot off the ground and slowly rotate the ankle clockwise, then repeat in the opposite direction. Ankle rotations help improve ankle mobility and reduce the risk of ankle stiffness or sprains during walking.

Arm reaches:

Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Alternate reaching one arm straight forward while rotating the opposite arm backward, then switch sides This exercise warms up the shoulders, chest, and upper back, enhancing arm swing and overall upper body mobility during walking.

Cooling down after walking is equally important to prevent muscle soreness and aid in recovery. Cooling down gradually brings the body back to a resting state, allowing the heart rate and breathing to return to normal. It helps remove waste products such as lactic acid, which can accumulate during exercise.

To cool down effectively, try the following techniques:

Slow down:

Gradually reduce your walking pace for the last few minutes of your walk to allow your body to transition from exercise to rest.

Static stretching:

Perform gentle static stretches that target the major muscle groups used during walking. Hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds, focusing on the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

Deep breathing:

Take slow, deep breaths and focus on relaxation. This helps promote a sense of calmness and aids in reducing muscle tension.


Drink plenty of water after your walk to rehydrate and replenish fluids lost during exercise.

Incorporating warm-up exercises and cool-down techniques into your walking routine can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and muscle soreness. They also improve overall flexibility, enhance performance, and contribute to a more enjoyable and comfortable walking experience. Check out our blog on relieving neck-pain here for more stretches and potential exercises. Remember, taking a few extra minutes to prepare and recover properly can make a world of difference in maintaining your walking health as an active adult.

Mistake 5: Ignoring signs of pain or discomfort

Another common mistake seniors make while walking is ignoring signs of pain or discomfort. Pushing through pain can be dangerous as it may indicate an underlying injury or condition that requires attention. Ignoring pain can lead to further damage, exacerbate existing issues, and hinder the body's ability to heal.

It is crucial to listen to your body and seek medical attention when experiencing pain or discomfort during or after walking. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help identify the cause of the pain and determine the appropriate course of action. Whether it's a strain, sprain, joint problem, or other issue, early intervention can prevent further complications and promote a quicker recovery.

Holistic Solutions for pain caused by walking:

In addition to seeking medical attention, older adults can also explore holistic pain management techniques to complement their treatment. Holistic practices focus on the overall well-being of an individual, taking into account physical, mental, and emotional aspects. Some holistic techniques that may help manage pain include:

CBD (Cannabidiol):

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. It has been reported to have potential pain-relieving properties. CBD can be used topically as a cream or oil, or taken orally as a tincture or capsule. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD, as it may interact with certain medications.

Herbal supplements:

Certain herbal supplements, such as turmeric, ginger, or devil's claw, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They can be taken in supplement form or incorporated into the diet as spices or teas. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before adding any herbal supplements to your routine, as they may interact with medications or have unwanted side effects.

Mind-body practices:

Techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or gentle yoga can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve pain management. These practices can enhance overall well-being and contribute to a more positive mindset when dealing with pain. Check out our blog for other potential mind-body practices here.

Holistic pain management approaches can be beneficial when used in conjunction with medical treatment. However, it's essential to remember that every individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's crucial to consult with healthcare professionals, including doctors and complementary medicine practitioners, to ensure safe and appropriate use of these holistic practices.

By adopting healthy walking habits, active adults can enhance their walking experiences and continue to enjoy the benefits of walking in their golden years. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals to ensure safe and appropriate implementation of these strategies. By taking a proactive approach to walking and pain management, mature adults can improve their overall health, mobility, and quality of life.

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