Owning a dog is a fun-filled experience, most of the time. But it also comes with responsibilities. For some, especially older dog-owners, walking the dog can be a strenuous physical activity. Your dog could suddenly rush at another dog, even in excitement, or your dog may change direction when you’re not expecting it. If you have to twist or are pulled awkwardly, it can hurt your back.
There are several reasons back pain is a common result from dog walking. If you’re a new dog owner, inexperience is a factor, so seek out dog-walking tips before you even get started. And if you’re over age 65, you may lack the strength and durability to handle a large dog who jerks on the leash when you least expect it.
5 Dog-Walking Tips to Prevent Injuries
Because an excitable dog can pull you in various directions during a walk, you’re advised to train your dog well. It’s possible to take a tumble, jar your back or even sprain an ankle while walking your dog. These five dog-walking tips help you prevent injuries:
- Stretch first. Be prepared before walking your dog by stretching. It’s easy to get up and go, but if your muscles aren’t properly warmed up, you increase the risk of an injury should your dog pull you unexpectedly.
- Prevent shoulder pain. Your dog can be distracted by any number of things, from a passing car or another animal to leaves blowing in the wind. These distractions can make even trained dogs temporarily forget their training. And if you aren’t paying attention, you may injure your shoulder. Keep your arms loose and at your sides when walking your dog. Pay constant attention to keep you and your dog safe.
- Prevent back pain. If you hurt your back, the pain may emanate from your upper, middle or lower back. When walking your dog, keep your back relaxed. A relaxed spine remains flexible if your dog pulls you without warning. Also, maintain a good posture by keeping your core tight. Turn your dog using your body, as opposed to pulling the leash with your arms. Twisting against a resisting force can cause back pain.
- Wear proper footwear. One of the best dog-walking tips is important in other aspects of your life too: wear appropriate shoes when out with your dog. If your shoes aren’t supportive and have poor traction, you increase the likelihood of an injury. Avoid wearing heels, flip flops, dress shoes or any other shoes that aren’t cushioned. Traction and comfort are more important than style.
- Walking is always the best option. Rollerblading, skateboarding and bike-riding are all great exercise options, but don’t do them while taking out your dog. If you’re going full speed and your dog decides to cut across your path or stop suddenly, one or both of you could suffer a serious injury.
If you’ve already suffered an injury from walking your dog, these dog-walking tips can help you avoid injuries in the future. For help recovering from an injury, contact the Southeastern Spine Institute to get the help you need to return to walking your dog pain-free.