Unlocking the Surprising Power of Walking: How Simple Walking Transformed My Chronic Pain

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Walking is my savior!

Walking isn’t sexy, is it?

And it’s taken for granted because…

It’s a “normal” part of life.

I mean we’re not taught to walk around with dumbbells in our hands when we’re 12 months old.

Imagine a baby bodybuilder?!

Imagine!!!


I digress!

But the lifting weight stuff is seen as a big deal. 

Possibly because people are always striving to push the body more and more.

Pushing the body is seen as an achievement!

Now walking for me has been an off-and-on thing.

The on part of walking has been for the last 7 years when I’m having flares ups with my back.

The off part of walking is when my back feels kinda OK and this is when I naturally start adding different forms of exercise.

But you know what, this last flare-up has really given me a good kick in the bottom.

[Soooo wanted to use a different word there, here goes…

It’s given me a good kick in the arse! That feels better!]

The kick in my jacksy has taught me to stop pushing.

I don’t know why exercise causes the push in me, possibly the practice of yoga in my 20s and 30s where I pushed and pushed is still in me deep down.

But this gal’s approaching 50 and a 50-year-old gal’s gotta do things differently!

Anyhoo…

The only real benefit to my back comes from walking.

Strange eh!

Not yoga, not pilates, not the gym, not massage, not physiotherapy (physical therapy)

WALKING!!!!

And I appreciate that you may be laid up in a horizontal position reading this and can’t envision being able to walk.

I get it, that was me 2 months ago with constant back and nerve pain, and limited movement in my left arm and leg, I get you!!

But as soon as I could be in a vertical position I started walking around my house.

So when that day comes, do it, walk those few steps even if it’s for 10 seconds, DO IT!!!


Now, we’re told to do a plethora of physiotherapy/physical therapy exercises, yoga, pilates etc. etc…

But the one thing that most of us can do naturally isn’t recommended that much.

Now, for me, I’ve been diagnosed with 4 slipped discs, two in my neck, two in my lower back and narrowing at both ends of my spine called stenosis.

As a lover of yoga and a teacher of yoga, I’ve had to refrain from doing the physical side of yoga the way my body has known for many years.

Instead, I’m listening to my body and resorting to very gentle yoga postures and avoiding most yoga postures deemed as being postures that strengthen the back.

Yeah, the back strengthening stuff isn’t that great!

Delving into my condition has given me a great understanding of how I need to move my body with its limitations.

And understanding anatomy obviously helps.

You see, with being diagnosed with stenosis and slipped disc, the usual back strengthening postures have an undesired effect on me.

And possibly many other people diagnosed with bulging discs and stenosis!

But guess what isn’t having an undesired effect…

Walking!!!

Professor Mark Hancock, an author of a study and a professor of physiotherapy states…


“We don’t know exactly why walking is so good for preventing back pain, but it is likely to include the combination of the gentle oscillatory movements, loading and strengthening the spinal structures and muscles, relaxation and stress relief, and release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins.”

The oscillating movement is a big deal.

Sitting and lying forces you to be in a static position.

Our body is designed to move.

Image. Giphy.com

So as we walk we’re swinging our arms and legs. One arm and leg back and one arm and leg forward.  This is an oscillating movement!

We’re also moving the muscles of the back in an oscillating manner with one side of the body stretching and the other side relaxing and so on and so on.


Walking allows this to happen!!!

Walking allows for oscillating movement as we swing in rhythm like a pendulum in a grandfather clock.


A study was carried out by Professor Hancock which involved 701 participants who had recently recovered from an episode of pain in the lower back.

The participants did individualized walking programs.

The participants’ progress was monitored for one to three years to look at any new flare-ups of back pain.

The results showed fewer bouts of activity limiting pain. And showed the reoccurrence of pain averaging at 208 days instead of 112 days.

So instead of flare-ups being 3 times a year, you’re looking at once or possibly twice a year.

Now that might not mean a lot when you don’t have back pain, but when you do…

Once a year instead of 3…


is a big deal!


So, this is proof that walking is soooo beneficial.

Now, for some reason, I’ve been hanging on to my gym membership.

You see, I was going to the gym last year into this year.

I had my flare-up in February and as I type it’s early July.

In my mind, I’ve been telling myself to hang on to this damn membership with hopes that I might go back.

But why?????!!!!!!!

You see, I caught the gym bug.

I GET IT!

But this post is giving me the push to cancel it.

The gyms OUT, walking’s IN.

And you know what…

Walking doesn’t cost me a damn thing.

It’s free!

So my message to back pain sufferers!!!

If you can, go out there and walk.

It may seem simple, it’s not as sexy as the gym, but…

The simple act of walking could give you a lot of peace and a lot less pain!!!

And if you’d like to stay in touch…


If you wish to keep hearing from me you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter on Substack or my Cheryl Shares daily-ish newsletter. Links to my newsletters are below.

My newsletters provide motivation to help you to get started as I know how hard it is to find motivation when you barely have energy to get out of bed.

I give you health and wellness suggestions, beneficial if you want a healthier lifestyle or if you’re looking to improve your chronic illness symptoms!!!

I’m not about making changes that are difficult.

Simple is my middle name and I believe simple is the game…

[See what I did there, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it!!!]

Anyway this is about making simple changes that can last a lifetime instead of a day!!

If that interests you come and join me!!!!



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References


https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/walking-can-help-people-with-lower-back-pain-heres-how#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWe%20don’t%20know%20exactly,feel%2Dgood’%20endorphins.%E2%80%9D


https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/june-2024/walking-away-from-pain-world-first-study-shows-dramatic-improvement-in-lower-back-trouble

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST BELOW…

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