You may already know that Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) does not have a cure. Thankfully there are some lifestyle changes you can make to lessen the symptoms and prevent it from getting worse. One of the most important things you can do to help control symptoms of PAD is to walk regularly. Research has shown that patients with PAD get the best results when they do a structured walking program following the steps outlined below. Keep track of your progress and bring your chart to your next appointment with Dr. Robbins.
Step 1: Warm Up (5 minutes)
Start by loosening up your legs by walking slowly for several minutes. Stretch your calf and thigh muscles for 10 to 15 seconds using the following stretches:
- Leg Curl – To stretch the front of your left thigh, place your right hand against the wall. Pull your left foot to your buttocks with your left hand, keeping you knee pointed straight to the ground. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat with your right foot and hand.
- Wall Push – To stretch your calf, lean your hands against the wall and stand about 3 to 4 feet away from the wall. Place one foot closer to the wall, bending the knee and pointing it towards the wall. Keep the back leg straight, and keep both feet flat on the ground and pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Step 2: Start Walking
Walk at a pace that will produce a mild to moderate level of pain within 3 to 5 minutes. On a scale of 1 to 10 a mild pain would be rated a 3 and moderate pain a 6. The pain may feel like a cramping or tightness in your leg. It is important that you do not stop at the first onset of pain but instead work up to a mild or moderate pain.
Step 3: Rest
Once a mild or moderate pain level has been reached, you may stop and rest until this pain goes away. You may rest sitting or standing.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 & 3
After the leg pain is gone, repeat the walking and resting steps several times. Be sure to walk at a pace that is fast enough to feel mild to moderate pain. If you do not feel pain, you may not be working hard enough and will not benefit as much from the walking program. As you improve, add a few minutes to each session. By increasing your stamina you should be able to walk for longer without feeling as much pain as you did previously.
Step 5: Cool Down
Finish each walking session by walking slowly again for the last 3 to 5 minutes. Stretch your thigh and calf muscles again. End by crossing your hands to your shoulders and hugging tightly, taking a few deep breaths.
In order for you to see the best results, it is important that you stick with your walking program. Try to walk at least 4 to 5 times a week, increasing the amount of time spent in each session as your stamina increases. As walking becomes easier, challenge yourself to work harder. You can walk up hills, stairs, or add an incline to your treadmill routine. If you miss a day or are too busy to walk for a whole session, walk for a few minutes at a time throughout the day when you can. Keep track of your progress in a chart like the one provided and try to stay on track. Be sure to bring the chart back with you to your next appointment with Dr. Robbins.
- Always wear walking shoes that feel good on your feet and have a thick, soft sole to cushion your feet. Always wear socks to prevent getting blisters – this is especially important if you have diabetes.
- Find a friend to walk with you. They should be able to walk for the same amount of time and same distance as you.
- Examine your feet daily. You may have sores, blisters, or cuts that you may not feel. Call Dr. Robbins’s office if you find any sores that do not heal. If left untreated, non-healing sores can lead to severe infection and possible toe, foot, or leg loss.
- Make walking interesting and have fun. Walk in the park or at a mall and do some window shopping. Listen to music. Vary your program so it doesn’t become boring.
- Track your progress in a chart such as the one provided. Keep track of your time with a watch and the number of steps with the pedometer provided. Over time you should see an increase in the number of steps taken as well as time spent walking per session. This means your stamina is increasing, and you should be able to walk longer distances before feeling pain.
Reward yourself for doing well. Treat yourself to a movie, buy a new hat or some fancy walking shoes! You’ll be feeling and looking great!
Check with the staff of VascularTyler on a regular basis to inquire about participating in walking activities with the staff. You may also check out our Facebook Page for information as well as to see pictures of all of us in action!