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Walking for Fun and Fitness

footpath sign
Image: Simon Howden /

We are blessed here in Hickory, Newton-Conover and Catawba County to have numerous lovely parks that also offer walking trails and tracks. Bakers Mountain Park is at the highest elevation in Catawba County and offers six miles of hiking trails. Riverbend Park, with twelve miles of trails, and the new St. Stephens Park (located on Kool Park Road) even have dog parks so you can exercise your pet as well as yourself.

(For a dog park application, click here, then click "Dog Park" under the Riverbend link. It will take you to the application pdf file.)

Walking is fairly easy on your joints and soft tissues, is free, and is a terrific calorie burner. Just a 30 minute walk at an alternating brisk then moderate pace can burn 250 calories and take off up to a pound per week if you walk seven days per week. You can burn even more calories if you walk up inclines.

To get the most out of your walking experience, it's helpful to heed the following tips:

Wear Better Footwear to Prevent Injury

One quarter of the bones in your body are found in your feet. The feet are the foundation of the whole body, and the wrong footwear can cause leg pain, back pain, or even neck pain.

The normal foot strikes with the lateral part of the heel, rolls medially onto the ball of the foot, where the arch flexes to provide stability and shock absorption, and pushes off with the toe. Such a stride insures foot and knee health. However, most of us either pronate or supinate.

Looking at the wear-pattern on the bottom of your shoes can reveal whether you pronate or supinate your foot as you walk.

pronated foot
This walker's feet pronate.
Notice how they roll inward.
© Editorial | Dreamstime.com
 free photo used by permission

If your foot pronates as you step, your shoe will wear out on the inner edges. This usually happens because your arch flattens when your foot strikes the ground and causes your foot to roll inward. Indeed, pronators are often flat-footed. Excessive pronation will cause your ankle and leg to twist and make you more prone to shin splints and stress fractures.

Excessive pronators should avoid super-cushioning shoes because they don't provide the stability and motion control needed. Instead buy good motion control shoes with firm midsoles and over-pronation features. A good full-length arch support can also help tremendously.

If you supinate, your shoe will wear out on the outer edges. This usually happens because your high arch doesn't flatten much at all and so doesn't take the shock of your steps. Excessive supination can lead to plantar fascitis, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, and iliotibial band syndrome.

Excessive supinators need cushion in their shoes to provide extra shock support. A too-firm shoe will only decrease shock control and increase the likelihood of injury. Similarly, they may need to buy shoes more often as the cushioning becomes flattened and ceases to perform as it should.

It is helpful to visit a professional to determine the stress pattern of your foot. Sometimes people with flat feet will supinate, and people with high arches will pronate. This occurs because of the shape of the foot and the extent to which the arch gives when moving.

A podiatrist, a chiropractor or an expert at a store like Foot Solutions can help you decide the best type walking shoe for your foot type.

There are also several Internet sites that help you determine the best shoe. Two that I like are Foot.com, which has a "foot pain identifier", and FootSmart.com (recommended to me by a client), which lets you choose your foot problem, offers advice on self-care, and suggests shoes and inserts that will help correct the problem.

Essential Oil of the Month: Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Alternifloria)

One of my favorite and most frequently used oils is tea tree oil. It's been called a first-aid kit in a bottle, and I've certainly found it to be true.

The melaleuca alternafloria plant is found in New South Wales, Australia, and it yeilds beautiful flowers like the pink and white ones above. However, it is the leaves that contain the healing oils.

The indigenous Aborigines of the area use the leaves of the plant for healing. One way they do so is to crush the leaves and inhale the odor to relieve coughs and sinus stuffiness. Inhalation is the way I most often use tea tree oil myself although I use the distilled essential oil rather than the leaves.

Another way the Aborigines used the plant was to make an infusion from the leaves, which they drank. Observing this, Captain James Cook gave the plant the name tea tree. You should avoid drinking the essential oil, however.

Research done in the 1920's found that essential oil from the melaleuca plant was eleven times more potent than the leading antimicrobial of the time. Plus, it doesn't contain the toxicity of manufactured antiseptics.

Tea tree oil can be used to treat cuts and scrapes, burns, blisters, canker and cold sores, and a variety of skin conditions such as dandruff, acne, athlete's foot, and Candidiasis.

It is often found in cleaning solutions such as household cleaners, soaps, hand sanitizers, shampoos, toothpaste and mouthwashes; in antibacterial and antifungal ointments; in baby wipes; and in makeup and skin care products. It has even been used to treat the bacterial and fungal infections of pet fish!

It is also good for keeping insects away. It makes a great natural mosquito repellant. One of my clients recommends it for treatment of lice. It is much safer than the OTC remedies, and it works.

One of my favorite uses is in the inhalation oil recipe to the left. It is releatively inexpensive and is an oil no medicine chest or first-aid kit should be without.

Safety caution: Tea Tree oil is generally used externally. You may need to dilute it with a carrier oil if you have sensitive skin. Furthermore, you should not put it on your pets. If they lick it, it could make them sick. It has even been reported to be fatal for cats.

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Apr.. 2009

In This Issue

purple spiral

Tea Tree Essential Oil

essential oil and dropper

Nail Fungus
• 4 tsps. apple cider vinegar
• 1/8 C. distilled water
• 6 drops tea tree EO
• 10 drops lavender EO

Mix well and apply to nails with a polish brush or cotton. Store in a glass bottle.

purple spiral

Chief Two-Trees Infusion Oils for Sinus Congestion and Headaches
• 3 drops Eucalyptus EO
• 3 drops Peppermint EO
• 3 drops Tea Tree EO

Boil a cup of water and remove it from the stove. While it is still steaming, add the oils. Immediately cover the cup and head with a towel and inhale for 3 minutes. Keep your eyes closed.

You can also add 2 drops each of the above oils to a tbsp. of olive oil and use as ear drops.

purple spiral

Disinfectant/Spray for Mold
• 2 tsps. tea tree EO
• 2 C. distilled water

Put in spray bottle and spray on problem area. Do not rinse.

purple spiral

Skin Care/Vaginal Ointment
• 1 T. aloe vera gel
• 6 drops tea tree

Mix tea tree and aloe vera gel together. Apply to affected area.

Ancient Wisdom Essential Oils
 Tea Tree (Melaleuca):

15 ml bottle: $17

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Copyright 2009
Suzanne H. Eller

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Quotes for Spring

"In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."
~Mark Twain

"Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime."
~Martin Luther

"April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."
~T.H. Eliot

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
~Anne Bradstreet

"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring."
~Bern Williams

"Spring is nature's way of saying 'Let's party'."
~Robin Williams

purple spiral

Suzanne's Picks

HBO is airing a series based on African-born Smith's delightful books, which begin with this one. Think Miss Julia in Africa. Precious Ramotswe, a woman with a size 22 "traditional figure", is Botswana's only female detective. She is witty, kind, and cleverly discerning. In this book, she gets involved in the search for an eleven year-old boy who may have been murdered. The books that follow are better written, but you'll want to start with this one. The HBO series airs on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM with a replay at 10:00.

I have the audio version of this book, but I got so interested in it, I bought the book itself so I could read when I wasn't listening. Set during 14th century in Kingsbridge, England, during the reign of Edward III and the coming of the Plague, it tells the story of four characters from childhood to adulthood. It is a sequel to Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which describes the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral two centuries earlier and is set to be made into a TV movie, but it can be read on its own. This is the best novel I've read in some time.

I have just started this book, but I really like Koda's combination of Reiki with her other studies, such as Buddhism and Castaneda's Toltec teachings. It adds a dimension that other Reiki books lack. She is articulate and focuses on presence and non-attachment to outcome during healing sessions.

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