Dog walking injuries: let’s talk about it!

Dog walking injuries: let’s talk about it!

Let's be frank, owning a dog is on the whole good for our health.  A Swedish research study over a period of 12 years reported in 2017 that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease or other causes (see footnote) . Dogs get us up, out, and walking (whether we feel like it or not!), which is brilliant for those of us that might not otherwise get the chance to prioritise exercise.

I have however seen examples of dog walking leading to the odd injury, in both patients at my Osteopathy clinic, and experiences of my own- I had the privilege of taking on a German Shepherd puppy last summer, who is now nearly 8 months old and weighs 35 kilos! The most common dog walking injuries that I treat using Osteopathy are back or leg pain following a fall, shoulder injuries from dogs pulling on the lead or repetitive ball throwing and foot problems such as plantar fasciitis or tendon injuries from poor footwear.

So, without further ado, here are three simple ways to reduce your chances of injury when walking your dog!

1.      Sturdy footwear:

Get a decent pair of trainers or walking shoes (no flip flops please, Unless they are Fitflops!).  As for the dreaded wellies... If you suffer with any back, knee or foot problems, then they are a no-go, as they tend to lack proper support. If you are planning on walking for longer than 30 mins at a time you should consider investing in some walking boots or at least lining your wellies with a supportive insole- some great ones can be found here:

Sturdy footwear should also have grip- whilst our four legged friends love rolling in the muddy woods, the same can’t always be said for those of us at the other end of the lead!

2.      Invest in a ball throwing gadget:

The repetitive action of constantly throwing a ball overarm when you have not one done any throwing for a while can stir up shoulder problems. These ball gadgets not only reduce the stress on the shoulder but also help to reduce the amount of bending down you do each time to pick the ball up and can also reduce the strain on  your lower back. An example of these gadgets is shown here:

3.      Shortening the lead:

If your dog is a strong puller, reduce the amount of momentum and force he can build up by using as short a lead as possible to reduce the strain on your shoulders. Refrain from wrapping the lead around your hand or wrist however as you need to be able to let go if they pull you too suddenly. 

 From time to time, when walking your dog there may be injuries that you just can’t anticipate (tree roots have a way of sneaking up on you sometimes!), and this is where we come in. If you are struggling to recover from one of those situations, book an appointment with our practice to help get you back the outdoors in no time at all.