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Walking the Walk

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you to do”. I am about to tell you the story of a physiotherapist that knew better, tried her best to follow her own advice but failed and suffered the consequences. All in the name of having an experience that she really really wanted to have but was aware that her body wasn’t prepared for it.


I’m also going to give you a few hacks or ideas to follow to minimize the consequences as said physiotherapist had to do.


Rule number 1.

When preparing for some form of endurance event, make sure you only increase your load by 10% every week.


Rule number 2.

Train both endurance and strength.


This physiotherapist had 3 weeks to prepare for a trip which required her to be able to walk approximately 20 kilometres per day. At this point she was doing 3 km leisure walks twice a week comfortably and the occasional 30km mountainbike ride. After doing her calculations, she realised that she needed to do more mileage very quickly to feel comfortable with 20km.


Hack number 1.

Stick with the comfortable distance, increase the frequency of walks but make sure to rest in between. That equated to 3km walks, every second day, for 3 weeks (with the occasional longer distance to check how the body felt).


Hack number 2.

Strength training 2 – 3 times per week.

Walking requires buttock, quadricep, hamstring and calf strength.

Air squats get the quadriceps and buttocks working. 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Deadlifts to get the hamstrings into action. 3 sets of 10-15 reps. Make sure you bend from the hips and not the lower back for this one.

Bridges – double or single leg. 3 sets of 10-15 reps. Make sure you feel the buttocks working harder than the quads or the hamstrings.

Calf raises – double or single leg. 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Add some weight by using a backpack with some goodies in it at your desired resistance (I added 5kg – oops now you know it was me).


On the actual walk there are a few suggestions that support your body and reduce the load…because load isn’t just about muscle work it is any stress on the body.


Rule number 3.

Get enough rest every night.


Hack number 3.

If you struggle with new environments, try prepping your body and mind by sleeping with eye patches and earplugs prior to the trip. A nighttime routine to get your mind into the right state can be very helpful in a strange surroundings.


Rule number 4.

Keep your body hydrated during the walk.


Hack number 4.

Drink water whenever you feel thirsty. A rehydrate at lunchtime helps the body replenish the minerals you lose from sweating. A buff (dipped in cold water) around the neck helps to keep your body temperature down. Avoid drinking copious amounts of coffee, it is a diuretic and you end up losing unnecessary water – plus you will need to have strong quads to handle all the bush squatting ladies.


Rule number 5.

Be kind to your feet.


Hack number 5.

Bring along a comfortable pair of shoes that support the heel. The shoe should compensate for swelling of the feet. When buying the shoe or checking which pair to take, remove the insole, place the foot on the insole with the heel snug against the back. Then make sure there is a thumbs width between the end of the big toe and the edge of the front part of the insole.

At the end of every day or when resting enroute, get your feet up and above the height of your heart to reduce swelling and pressure on the feet.


Rule number 6.

Warm up properly.


Hack number 6.

Remember the muscles I mentioned earlier? They need to be warmed up before walking. This can be done by simply doing a few squats or lunges, swinging each leg backwards and forwards slowly until the muscles feel warm and doing a few calf raises. Take a deep breath and forget all the stress.


Last hack.

If something hurts during the walk, squeeze the buttocks. Often the reason for pain is that the buttock muscles have decided to go on holiday when they are most needed.

If all else fails, hail the support car and take the easy way J (this is in no way a confession of what I did).


I eventually felt some hip pain but it would definitely have been worse if I hadn’t done the little bit of preparation that I eventually managed.


Walking is so healthy, it is great for your mind, your back health, your heart and yes, even the soul. Let’s get walking.



Although this advice and information is based on sound knowledge it is still followed at your own risk. I cannot take any responsibility for injuries or health conditions that may arise as a result of my advice. Videos and advice are generalised and cannot replace the individualised advice provided after a medical assessment by your local healthcare professional.

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