Walking your furry little friend is a great way to maintain a healthy daily exercise routine. In fact, regular walking can help with chronic low back pain. Walking is an essential exercise for the dog but as a caretaker it is important for you to continue walking without injuring your back. Follow these 5 steps before heading out with your favorite canine friends:
1. PROPER FOOTWEAR:
- Pay attention to the shoes you are wearing, even if it is a brisk walk around the block.
- Footwear should provide comfort and adequate padding with heal support (i.e. avoid flip flops).
2. LEASH TECHNIQUE:
- The leash should be a comfortable distance so that your arms are not overstretched, allowing slight flexion at the elbows.
- Allow flexibility with the leash to avoid over extension if your dog suddenly lunges forward; however, try to not let your dog get too far ahead of you.
- Avoid erratic movements to avoid injury. Sudden extension can injure your back, particularly the facet joints.
3. MAINTAIN POSTURE:
- Use your core to stand straight and avoid too much flexion or extension.
- Walk at a steady pace.
- Turn the dog using your body.
4. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:
- Do not go to the point of exhaustion, but rather gradually increase the distance every 1-2 days.
- Take frequent breaks if you need to; it gives your dog a break too.
- Treat walking just as you would any other physical exercise. Make sure you stretch before and after to avoid pulling a muscle!
5. PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG:
- Bend with your knees and use your leg muscles.
- Use your core for stability.
Walking regularly not only benefits your dog, but you as well, so grab the leash and enjoy the warm weather. Fido and your back will thank you!