How walking can help Chronic Pain
Firstly, what is chronic pain?
Chronic or persistent pain can be explained as pain that carries on for longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment.
The root cause can vary person-to-person, with it sometimes due to illness or an injury. In other cases it can be due to being overweight, having years of poor posture or improper lifting of heavy weights. It can be debilitating but movement is known to help.
As an osteopath, the conversation I seem to have at least once-a-day is; how much exercise should someone who is in pain be doing?
As you can imagine every case is different, and exercise advice varies hugely from person to person and condition to condition. There is a big difference between chronic pain and recovery from injury pain. I am focusing on exercises for people with chronic pain conditions, specifically walking.
Many people with chronic pain are afraid that movement, including walking, will worsen pain. But as many have subsequently discovered, the opposite is very often true. Using your muscles and joints less can often cause pain to becomes worse. Gentle exercise like walking can really help to bring those pain levels down, as well as many other benefits like improving your circulation, strengthening your bones and of course helping to keep those extra pounds off.
Here are tips before you start:
1. Talk to your healthcare professional first
You should always take the advice of a health professional before starting any exercise. They can ensure it is safe for you to start, and guide you with the types of exercises you should begin with. They will also help you understand your limits and outline suitable goals. As a rule of thumb, if you are in pain, stop!
I, or another osteopath, can check your posture and gait and give you tips on engaging the correct muscles.
2. Get the right shoes
A good pair of supportive trainers will prove invaluable. Walking boots that protect the ankle are only really required if you’re planning to walk on loose surfaces or heading off into the mountains. Otherwise, walking trainers will suffice. To find out more about choosing the right footwear, read our blog on How To Avoid Running Injuries.
3. Start slow
What we’re aiming for is about half an hour to an hour of physical activity five days a week, but this may take some time to achieve. There’s no rush! A good indicator that you are at the right intensity level is that even though your heart rate is up a little, you are still able to carry on a conversation while walking. When starting your walk don’t go full speed immediately. Allow your muscles and joints to warm up for the first few minutes before getting up to speed. This will help prevent damage and injuries.
4. Keep hydrated
You may need to carry a bottle of water, especially for walking in hot weather. If the weather is hot, make sure you also take sunscreen and a hat to stop sunburn.
5. Finally, try to enjoy it!
The more you enjoy it, the easier it becomes. Find somewhere nice to walk, even if that means
driving somewhere. Listen to music/ podcasts/ audiobooks, or even better get a walking buddy to join you for a chit chat along the route.
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OSTEOPATHY AT FLEET STREET CLINIC
Andrew Doody is an osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic and is fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOSC).
Book an appointment with him if you have any musculoskeletal injuries by calling 0207 353 5678, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment online.