10 Tips for Walking with Chronic Pain

Walking is one of the least expensive and easiest forms of exercise.  All it requires is a pair of sneakers, a place to walk either outdoors or indoors, and the motivation to begin!  Once you have a plan to begin a walking exercise routine, you can modify the length and intensity of your walks based on your goals and individual abilities.

Regardless of your reasons for beginning to walk for exercise, here are ten simple tips that will help you achieve the maximum benefits from your workout.

Talk to your doctor

Check with your doctor to be sure that walking will not worsen your chronic pain.  While studies have shown that walking can substantially lessen the intensity and frequency of pain episodes, it’s recommended to talk with your physician regardless.

Invest in a good pair of sneakers

Once you start walking for longer periods of time and longer distances, you’ll need a good pair of shoes that fit appropriately and are of high quality to support your feet and legs during exercise.  Walking sneakers should have good arch support and a slightly raised heel that adds support and prevents wobbling while walking.

Warm up

Make sure to warm up your muscles with a slow five minute warm up walk prior to engaging in a longer brisk walk.

Watch your breathing and heart rate

Take note of the pace of your breathing and your heart rate.  While you want to elevate your heart rate while walking to gain the cardiovascular benefits, you should still be able to carry on a conversation during your walk.  If you cannot talk while walking, you may want to decrease the intensity of your workout.

Focus on good posture

Maintain good posture while you walk by pointing your toes straight ahead, keeping your head up, back straight, and abdominal muscles engaged.  Bend your elbows at a ninety-degree angle and swing your arms with each step.

Count steps

A pedometer will track the number of steps you’ve taken or the distance you’ve walked.  This will help you to monitor your improvement and stay motivated.

Buy a wearable
Wearable fitness trackers such as the Fitbit or smart phone apps allow you to track your steps and compete with friends, which can offer extra motivation.

Drink water, lots of it

Keep hydrated if you’re walking a long distance or in hot temperature conditions. In very hot weather conditions, you may also want to replenish your electrolytes with tablets or fitness drinks.

Sunscreen when outside

Wear sunscreen and a hat in the summer when exercising outside.

Select a new route

To avoid getting bored, vary the route that you walk.  Once you feel comfortable with the amount of time and distance that you are walking, consider a route with some hills or terrain changes.  Whatever you do, keep the workout interesting!

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