This is the third article in the Walking is Wonderful series. In the first articles (find them in the archives), we guided you on getting started easily and handling foot pain. Today we’re going to look at what to do when you notice pain/discomfort in your hips or back. When you are walking and something starts to hurt … pause and try one of our pain soothing techniques. I’m going to tell you what they are in a moment.
I want to make a case here for trying walking poles. They will help you walk farther with more ease. You can get many different styles at different prices. If you can get to a sports store, go try them or look around for them online. I came across an interesting product called BungyPump walking poles. They add a strengthening component to walking by putting spring into the bottom of the pole. These make walking fun, interesting and more challenging. BungyPump has generously offered a 15% discount and free shipping to San Francisco Bay Times readers. Go to bungypumpus.com and use the code “Walking15” at checkout. I love that BungyPump, like me, is passionate about helping people get out and walk, and they have great how-to videos.
Now let’s talk about noticing discomfort early, and pausing your activity quickly. I teach my clients how to pay attention to their body’s signals; that is, doing fitness from the inside out. That sounds pretty straight forward, but you’d be surprised how often you might be turning a deaf ear. For example, if you are walking and the outside of your hips starts to get uncomfortable, what do you do? Most people just keep walking until it gets unbearable, and then they have to sit down. If you do that, you will start to be afraid of walking because you can’t always know there is a place to sit.
If you keep walking through discomfort, it turns to pain. Keep walking through pain and the pain gets bigger. The bigger the pain is when you interrupt it, the harder it is to soothe or resolve. At the first sign of discomfort, even before it becomes pain, pause and try an Easy Fitness Fix. The “notice it early and pause” advice is smart and straightforward, but it’s not always easy to follow. You may have to get through the voice in your head that might be picking on you for having to stop. You also might have to ignore past advice, such as “no pain no gain” or “just walk it off.”
When you pay attention to your body’s signals consistently, you build a powerful partnership between you and your body. If you really cannot pause and apply an Easy Fitness Fix when walking discomfort begins, then be sure to acknowledge that you heard the signal, but are choosing to push through. Think a kind thought, such as: “Thanks body, I hear you, but I need to keep going a little farther.” Another Easy Fitness principal is to make a conscious choice and then line up with it.
Sitting for a few seconds is a great way to help hip/back pain that happens while you walk, but what if there’s no place to sit? Leaning back onto a wall or tree trunk can also help. Easy Fitness Fix #1 is the Football Huddler Stretch. This position works great to soothe that outer hip and low back pain that can kick up when you are walking. Per all Easy Fitness exercises, this one does double duty. It not only soothes pain, but also it builds flexibility in your butt, thighs and low back.
To do the Football Huddler Stretch, stand with your feet spread kind of wide. Stick your butt out a bit, bend your knees slightly and put your hands on your thighs. Think how football players look in a huddle. This position takes the pressure off your hips and lower back for a moment, so you can get back to walking. You can do this early and often to increase your pain-free walking distance.
Next time, we will talk about soothing knee pain while you’re walking.
Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com