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Should You Walk When it Hurts?

Reasons to Continue your Walk When it Hurts in Every Joint.

It is sort of a catch 22.  Walking is good for your knees and hips.  But knees and hips with arthritis make walking difficult.   So today’s question is “should you still walk when it hurts?”  The answer is a qualified yes!Should you walk when it hurts?  There answer may surprise you.

First let me give you some background.  I love to walk.  I spent years walking 5 or 6 miles every day and loved every step of it.   Then it started getting harder to do because of the aches and pains of getting older and also of arthritis in my knees and hips.  So I gave in.  I figured that I got plenty of exercise from gardening.  And that is true, I do.  But it is a different kind of exercise.  (as in I am great as squatting, but not so good at walking around the garden and have to keep sitting down.)  My cardio strength has disappeared and any little exertion tires me out.

But after an eye opening trip to my mother’s, and a new round attitude to losing weight, I decided to make some major changes in my life.  (read….get off my butt, start moving and control what goes into my mouth.)

So now I am walking every day.  I started with a walk around my block (one mile) morning and night but that got old fast.  I love my scenic walks, and I am fortunate to have so many of them very near to where I live.  So now, I hop in the car, drive to one of these fabulous walking trails and try to walk a minimum of 2 miles. 

Today’s walk was at Lake Benson Park.  If you live in Raleigh, be sure to head over and try it out.  You will be glad you did. Lake Benson woodland trail

Anyway…I was so excited to walk here again, until I started out.   It was not more than 5 minutes before I realized I had made a few big mistakes before my walk this time.

  • I started much later and it was hot, and I am not fond of the heat
  • I started later and it was a few hours since I took the morning does of Nsaid that helps to control the pain in my hips and they hurt….ouchie….big time…every few steps. 
  • I ate a normal breakfast instead of my morning banana peanut butter smoothie and I just felt somehow heavier.
  • I left my bottle of water in the trunk of my car (too far away to retrieve) and I was so darn thirsty.  (note to self…bring water!)

So I was hurting.    But I kept at it.  I had to stop often.  (laughing to myself here)  Often is an understatement.   I walked 45 minutes and stopped to sit 10 times. (count ’em…10!)  Fortunately Lake Benson has a park bench every so often on the walk so I was not relegated to sitting on rocks, or fire hydrants, or the ground, or whatever. park benchNotice that bottle of water on this inviting seat in the woodland trail?  It was at about the 3/4 point of my walk.  I was eager to sit (again for the umpteenth time) and saw it.  And touched it.  It was coooold.  And I was tempted.  Until I remembered we are a nasty world at times and there might be poison in it. So I gave it a miss.  But eyed it lovingly and cursed myself for forgetting my own water.

I kept plodding on.  And then I realized something.  I was tired.  I was hot.  I was mad at myself for forgetting my water.  But………..my knees and hips were not hurting.  Not even a little bit. What had started as the main feature of my daily walk – pain in my knees and hips with every step – had disappeared.

And I asked myself something – you don’t suppose that walking when it hurts actually helps the pain do you?  What a revelation.  What a realization.  What a moment!

I got back to my car.  Anxious to dig into the trunk for the water I had left there, set off my car alarm and scared every dog within the vicinity.  But….I realized something.  Today, I walked when it hurt.  45 minutes.  2 miles.  And I felt good now.

So should you walk when it hurts?  I say yes but with some conditions. Walk if this is your situation:

  • You have sore and aching muscles.  Just start out slowly, rest when you need to but do it anyway
  • Also, be sure that you have talked to your doctor and they have approved you for light exercis

But there are some times when you should not walk when it hurts.  These would be:

  • You have swollen joints and they are red and warm.
  • Exercise makes your pain get worse, not better
  • You have a fever (get thee to bed, my dear)
  • The pain actually makes you limp
  • The joint feels unstable or (heaven forbid) locks up when you try to walk.

These are all signs of something much more serious than old age or arthritis and you should see your doctor.walking bootsSo now I ask you a question.  Are your walking boots on or off today?  Do you walk when it hurts?  Take it from me.  Give it a try.  Even on a day like today (not one of my most pleasurable walks for the first part of the walk) I still felt much better after I was done, and am very glad I did it.  Get up and get moving folks.  It helps!

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