Healthy Tips

Learn to Walk

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Do you know how to walk? Of course, most people would say, everyone knows how to walk; it is as instinctive as breathing. The comparison is apt — just like many people breathe inefficiently, in today’s increasingly motorised world many have forgotten how to walk. If you look around, you will see that by the time people reach their fifties, they either waddle with a sideways swaying movement or have a forward shuffling gait. This unnatural way of walking pushes the spine, hip and knees out of alignment, eventually resulting in aches, pains and even degenerative arthritis.

As we grow older, we need to concentrate on maintaining a proper walking technique. Slouching, bad posture and an improper gait are avoidable pitfalls. Whenever you walk, hold your head high and the neck straight. The eyes should be focused 15-20 feet ahead, the chin held parallel to the ground, the stomach pulled in, the feet a shoulder-width apart and the arms should swing naturally at right angles (not across the body).


It is even more important to learn to walk properly as a toddler but cramped housing and an unsafe environment makes fearful parents confine children indoors. Also, early unsteady steps often result in falls, leading to bruises and bumps. Anxious parents then start carrying children or restrict them to prams. Watching television programmes seems safer and less stressful (for the caretaker) than letting tiny tots walk around.

That, however, is not the right attitude. Toddlers attempting to take their first steps need active encouragement. Hold them by the hand and make them walk alongside for around 20 minutes morning and evening. Encourage them to walk fast, run, jump and skip. This will improve muscle tone, balance, coordination as well as make them confident and sturdy. This will help them all through life.

The preparation for a healthy life in which one (barring an unforeseen event) remains active and mobile well into the nineties, should ideally begin in the twenties but it is never too late to start. Even the sixties or the eighties is not too late. These days doctors recommend an hour of aerobic activity a day. Of all the activities — jogging, walking, running swimming, dancing and sports like tennis — walking is the easiest. It does not require much training or equipment, no partner is required, and it is the least likely to cause an injury.

The intensity or speed of the walk can be varied to obtain maximum health benefits. The perception of the intensity of exercise can be misleading. This is why it is important to have an objective assessment. The “target heart rate” should be calculated from the formula 220-age. In light activity, 40 per cent of this heart rate is reached, breathing is normal, sweating is minimal and it is possible to carry on a conversation. In moderate activity, 50-70 per cent of the target heart rate is reached, breathing is rapid, sweating occurs and it is possible to speak but not sing. During vigorous activity 70-80 per cent of the target rate is reached, breathing is rapid and it is not possible to speak without pausing for breath. The intensity of exercise should be gradually built up over a period of months to the “vigorous stage” as this confers the most health benefits.

It is important to wear seamless socks (will not injure the feet) and proper footwear while walking. Slippers slap up against the heel. After many kilometres, this is likely to result in heel pain. Clothes should be loose and made out of natural or “climate controlled” material, not tight fitting synthetic and non sweat absorbing.

In 10-15 per cent of people over the age of 65, walking can result in a pain radiating down the leg or in the buttock or calf. After a period of rest, the pain disappears. This is a condition called intermittent claudication and is caused by poor blood supply to the leg muscles. It can occur in diabetes, hypertension and if cholesterol plaques block the vessels owing to elevated lipids .It can be a precursor to strokes and heart attacks. Intermittent claudication responds 250 per cent within a few months to walking for at least an hour a day with rest whenever the pain arises.

People who walk regularly get an endorphin (mood-elevating chemical) boost. The constant pounding helps calcium enter their bones making them stronger. Recent research has shown that the hippocampus (the area in the brain responsible for memory) expands by as much as 2 per cent in people who walk regularly. In sedentary elders it shrank by 1.5 per cent.

Have a clear aim, like eventually being able to walk for an hour. Make walking a habit, beginning each day with the thought “when I finish my walk,” rather than “if I walk today”. In short, walk to be fit, healthy, happy and to have a good memory.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Intermittent Claudication

Intermittent claudication is a cramping pain felt in the calf, thigh or buttock during walking or other exercise. It is caused by lack of oxygen to the muscles because of a poor blood supply, and is relieved by rest.

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Click to see the picture...

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. It is commonly referred to as “intermittent” claudication because it comes and goes with exertion and rest. (In severe claudication, the pain is also felt at rest.)

The term claudication comes from the Latin for ‘to limp’. The affected person doesn’t normally limp but as they walk, the pain starts to build and they limp to a standstill.

People affected describe intermittent claudication as an aching or cramping pain, accompanied by tightness or fatigue in the leg muscles or buttocks. For some, this pain arises only during strenuous activity; for others (with more severe disease of the arteries) it comes on after walking a few metres. The key factor is that the pain stops within a few minutes of resting

One of the hallmarks of arterial claudication is that it occurs intermittently. It disappears after a brief rest and the patient can start walking again until the pain recurs. The following signs are general signs of atherosclerosis of the lower extremity arteries:

*atrophic changes like loss of hair, shiny skin
*decreased temperature
**redness when limb is returned to a “dependent” position

All the “P”s
*Increase in Pallor
*Decrease in Pulses
*Perishing cold

Causes :
Most commonly, intermittent (or vascular or venous) claudication is due to peripheral arterial disease  (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which implies significant atherosclerotic blockages resulting in arterial insufficiency. It is distinct from neurogenic claudication, which is associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. click & see

Click to see the picture

click to see the picture

In people with PAD the arteries of the extremities – the feet, legs, hands and arms – become hardened or furred up (a process called arteriosclerosis) as cholesterol plaques build up on the inside of the arteries walls. This in turn obstructs blood flow.

When we walk, our muscles demand more oxygen, which is delivered through the circulation of blood. If not enough blood can get through, the muscles don’t receive enough oxygen and we experience pain.

When someone with intermittent claudication rests, the need for additional oxygen disappears and so does the pain

Intermittent claudication is much more common in men than women. It affects up to 10 per cent of people aged over 65 in developed countries. Most of those affected will also have significant disease of the coronary arteries and are at risk of heart attack and stroke.

Risk Factors:
The major risk factors for intermittent claudication include:
•High cholesterol
•Lack of physical activity
•High levels of a chemical called homocysteine
•Family history of arterial disease

Exercise can improve symptoms; increased blood flow enhances the creation of collateral vessels to the affected muscle. However, if movement increases claudication then excessive movement is difficult if not impossible.

Pharmacological options exist as well. Medicines that control lipid profile, diabetes and hypertension may increase blood flow to the affected muscles and allow for increased activity levels. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers, antiplatelet agents (aspirin and clopidogrel), pentoxifylline and cilostazol (selective PDE3 inhibitor) are used for the treatment of intermittent claudication. However, medications will not remove the blockages from the body. Instead, they simply improve blood flow to the affected area.

Catheter based intervention is also an option. Atherectomy, stenting, and angioplasty to remove or push aside the arterial blockages are the most common procedures via catheter based intervention. These procedures can be performed by interventional radiologists, interventional cardiologists, vascular surgeons and thoracic surgeons, among others.

Surgery is the last resort; vascular surgeons can perform either endarterectomies on arterial blockages or perform an arterial bypass. However, open surgery poses a host of risks not present with catheter-based interventions.

Alternative treatment:
Ginkgo biloba extract, an herbal remedy, has been used by people with intermittent claudication. The extract made from the dried leaves of the Gingko tree is thought to improve blood flow, allowing people to walk longer without pain.

However, herbal remedies are not regulated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and people should consult with their doctors before taking Ginkgo. Furthermore, use of this remedy could interact adversely when taken with Vitamin E and some medications.

The prognosis with intermittent claudication is generally favorable because the condition often stabilizes or improves in time. Conservative treatment is advised initially.

•Walking (to gain stamina) often helps increase the distance that the patient can walk without symptoms.

•Drugs that are approved for the management of intermittent claudication include pentoxifylline (Trental) and cilostazol (Pletal).

•If medication is inadequate, correction of the narrowing in the affected artery might be suggested. Procedures used to correct the narrowing of arteries include surgery (bypass grafting) and interventional radiology (balloon angioplasty or stents).

When claudication is severe and persistent, these procedures may be required to ultimately relieve the condition and the pain. Not all persons with severe claudication can benefit from these procedures. The potential to benefit depends on the exact location and degree of artery disease and the overall health status of the patient.

A healthy lifestyle is the best method for preventing intermittent claudication. Cigarette smokers should quit smoking. Regular exercise and a healthy diet help reduce the risk of this condition. If necessary, people should work to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Diabetics should strive to manage that condition, obese people should lose weight.

The methods of preventing intermittent claudication are also the means for managing the risks associated with a diagnosis of PAD.

People can learn more about peripheral vascular disease through public education programs like the free Legs for Life screenings held at sites across the nation. The program started the Society of Interventional Radiology features a free ABI testing.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


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