Podiatrist publishes area walking guide



Dr. Thomas F. Vail believes one of the best prescriptions for a healthier lifestyle is walking.

So the Findlay podiatrist has developed “Findlay Footsteps,” a pictorial guide of walking paths, bike trails and outdoor activities in Findlay and surrounding areas. The book is designed to show people that exercising is as easy as walking around a local park.

“This got started on our blog (Findlay Foot Facts),” said Vail, who has practiced in Findlay for over 20 years.

“Patients would post questions there about how to exercise, what they could do, and walking is a great exercise so we tried to think of places they could go,” he said.

“And then I thought, well, there should be a little pictorial book of all the places in Findlay that people might not know about.”

Office manager Joe Yorey also got on board with the project.

“Over the years people would come to us and say, it would be really nice if we had some kind of book based on that blog, so that’s what kind of got us into the idea of doing this,” he said.

Yorey helped with organization of the information, and Jackie

Faeth, a student intern in Vail’s office, took the photographs that appear in the book. Some foot facts are included as well.

Vail himself works out on an elliptical machine during the week.

But if he has time on weekends, he enjoys walking at Riverside Park,

Riverbend Recreation Area and the Findlay reservoirs. Vail also likes to rollerblade on the Slippery Elm

Trail that runs from North Baltimore to Bowling Green.

“Walking is one of the best exercises because it’s low-impact and most people can do it,” Vail said. “You’re not going to stress and strain with the knees and the hips, and it’s inexpensive. Can’t afford a membership to the Y? You can walk.”

“Get outside and exercise. Keep that cholesterol down. Diabetics, keep their sugar down. Everybody can do it,” he said.

Yorey said the book took six to eight months to compile.

“We go through parks, but not just parks,” he said. “We go through walking downtown, the Cube. We have a lot of things in there that are not just outside, walking in the mall, their backyard, walking around their neighborhood.”

Also included are some of the special events unique to Findlay such as KidsFest, Flag City Balloon Fest and the Riverside Summer Concert Series.

“When you start to look at all the stuff that’s going on in Findlay and where you can go and do these things, it’s pretty amazing,” Vail said.

He noted that one of the major problems people encounter when they begin an exercise program is not knowing what type of shoes to buy or how they should fit.

“The biggest problem we see is shoe fit,” Vail said. “It’s usually the wrong size, the wrong fit.”

“To get the proper fit, go one finger beyond your longest toe.

Some people have that long dominant second toe, so you want to make sure it’s one finger beyond that toe. And then the width, just make sure it’s a little bit snug but not too tight,” he said.

Vail said shoes that are too small can lead to toenail fungus.

“A lot of it is people’s fit and mostly women because your shoes are tapered, and the high heel shoes put a lot of pressure and that lets the little fungus and spores in,” he said.

“Once we get the shoes then treat the fungus, you have a good chance of it not coming back.”

Another tip, he said, is to go shoe shopping late in the afternoon.

Feet swell later in the day.

“And we don’t walk in pumps, high heels, or sandals and flip flops, lots of injuries with those,”

Vail said. “We usually prefer a tie, lace-up shoe.”

“Some of the Velcro shoes are OK for those that have arthritis and can’t tie, but slip-ons and flip flops and things like that aren’t structurally sound for walking, so stay away from those,” he said.

Get a good shoe fit, he said, and you can go out and do these things.

“So many patients come in here and say they can’t exercise because their feet hurt, and a lot of times we find out that it basically is they didn’t have the right shoe,” Yorey added.

Vail noted that stretching before a walk or any kind of exercise is also important.

“Walking up and down steep hillsides and tramping through wet, slippery fields and wooded areas puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t conditioned properly before hitting the trail,” he said. “Also many people don’t realize that cross-training athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking trails. Had some of my patients worn a sturdy, well-constructed shoe they wouldn’t have suffered sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.”

Stretching will also help people who have planter fasciitis or heel spurs, Vail said.

“Sometimes we have to augment the good shoe with a little bit of an arch orthotic support in there to help alleviate that, but stretching does a great job in helping alleviate that pain,” he said.

And the right socks can help prevent blisters. Vail recommended synthetic socks that have moisture wicking properties and nano bamboo charcoal fibers which are anti-microbial.

He also noted that pain can occur from overuse, even from walking.

“If you’re not accustomed to walking on sloped or uneven ground your legs and feet will get tired and cause muscles and tendons to ache,” he said. “To avoid a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an

Achilles tendon rupture, rest for a while if you start hurting. Serious injury risk escalates significantly if you continue walking in pain.” Beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident, Vail said.

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