Tips and Trails for Walking - Stop Knee and Leg Pain Before It Starts - Functional Advantage
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Tips and Trails for Walking – Stop Knee and Leg Pain Before It Starts

It’s officially summer and one of the best times of the year to get out and enjoy the fresh air and the sights of your town. With more people wanting to explore new places to keep themselves and the kids occupied, we’ve created a list of our favorite beginner walks and our top tips to avoid ankle pain and knee injuries while taking advantage of this beautiful weather! 

This blog post covers everything you’d possibly need to know about walking, including:  

  • How to warm up properly to prevent injury.  
  • 4 of the best places to walk for all the family, including the health benefits of walking.  
  • How to prevent injury after you get home, including how to prevent muscle cramp. 

How to warm up properly to prevent injury… 

It’s vital to take your stamina, trail and footwear into account to ensure that you’re protecting your joints and muscles in the best way possible.  

Walking appears to be a really safe way to keep fit and active and that you’re being kind to your knees by doing it regularly. Without the proper care and treatment, you could be causing serious damage to your joints.  

Tips for warming up…

  1. Look for the hidden dangers – It is to mix it up a little and alternate between the beach, grass and a nice flat surface and occasionally, hills or in the woods is fine, too. Be cautious of gravelly and uneven surfaces, these can test your balance and cause unnecessary stress on your vital joints, especially the calf muscles that keep you up-right.  
  2. Footwear – Not everything is stylish unfortunately! Stick to Velcro or lace shoes rather than those high heels! The tighter the laces are, the less movement you cause on your muscles and joints, which is healthier in the long run (as long as your laces don’t restrict blood flow from being too tight).   
  3. Stay hydrated – By staying hydrated, you’re reducing the risks of cramps (which causes muscle sprain) and you’re also looking after your blood sugar levels which can stop you feeling light-headed and dizzy!  

These tips can be applied to those joining with smaller feet too, maybe get the kids involved by creating a checklist before you go to make sure!  

4 of the best Northeast walks for all the family, including the health benefits of walking… 

Midland City Forest:

Multiple trails connect and weave through the forest. If you are looking for a more challenging, hiking experience you can stick to the mountain biking trails and if you are looking for an easier experience, you can stick to the main trails. Midland City Forest is located on Monroe Rd and Eastman Ave. 

Chippewa Nature Center:

Located off of M-20, the Chippewa Nature Center is a great place to go for a family walk. There are multiple restrooms throughout the trails as well as educational markers to keep you busy during your walk. There are also miles of hiking trails available if you want a more intense workout. 

Bay City's Riverwalk and Rail trail:

17 miles of paved pathways located on both sides of the Saginaw River. On the East Side, the trails go along the river and connect to both Downtown and Uptown. On the West Side, you will walk by community flower gardens, marinas, boaters, and a playground for the kids to stop at and play.

Saginaw Valley Rail Trail:

Walk 11 Miles from St. Charles to Saginaw. The trail includes seven bridges over rivers and creeks, and lots of wildlife in the Shiawassee state game area and wetland areas. The rail trail offers 3 different locations to park. 6225 Stroebel Rd, 2998 Van Wormer Rd, and 401 East Water St. 


How to prevent injury after you get home, including how to prevent muscle cramp… 

Aftercare is one of the most important things when it comes to keeping your joints and muscles healthier (and pain free!) for longer. By following the correct care after a long walk, you can be preventing damage that could stop you from enjoying the outdoors AT ALL.  

Top tips for preventing injury…

  1. Use ice – If you feel that nagging pain beginning, or notice slight swelling, make sure to apply ice wrapped in a towel for 20-minute intervals. This will reduce swelling and tenderness in the area, along with help the muscles to cool down and return to their natural state. 
  2. Take it easy – Remember that we are coming out of those colder months and your exercise levels may not be what they were at the end of last summer. Make sure you take it easy and know your limits!  
  3. Pick the right shoes – The problem is you’ll never know it’s happening, at least not until you see some swelling or feel heat coming from your knee. I assure you, your knee is under much added stress if your footwear isn’t protecting it by absorbing some shock from the pavement and keeping it in a steady position. 

Remember that sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. Over-exercising can lead to exhaustion and injury that takes longer to heal. When this happens, you may need longer periods of rest between walks and other activities, you may even feel exhausted rather than energized afterwards. We always urge caution and a sensible outlook on physical and mental health, this is a marathon – not a sprint. 

Let us know if you’ve completed any of these beautiful walks recently, or if you have some favorite trails of your own that weren’t mentioned in this post. 

Happy walking! 

P.S. We realize some people may be “unsure” if physical therapy is right for them. If you feel like this, we offer complimentary FREE consultations, which give you the opportunity to come in and meet us and see for yourself how we can help you. Click here to fill out a short form to reserve a spot today!


If you’re in pain and would like to talk to us about getting some help, some specialist advice, or if you have been let down in the past by other facilities, remember we are always here to help you.  

If you would like to get one of our limited slots, please click here to complete our inquiry form. 

Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
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