Walking and exercise

Lilydog66 Member Posts: 10
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:09 in Living with arthritis

Hi, thanks for letting me join.

I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, sciatica and arthritis of the spine and hips. The problem with my back started 15 years ago but now symptoms are chronic. I also have nerve damage which affects one leg and foot (makes it sound like I'm falling apart when I see it written down lol).

Please can you advise re exercise? I am doing exercises to strengthen muscles given to me by my physio. I love walking but suffer afterwards. After a 3 mile walk, I will find moving agony for at least 3 days. Is this usual? It is making me shy away from walking and exercise. Any ideas how to keep active without being in agony?

Thank you!


  • Anna
    Anna Moderator Posts: 1,006

    Hi @Lilydog66 and welcome to the online forum,

    i understand you’re looking for some advice on gentle exercises you can do - well you’ve come to the right place, Exercise can help keep you flexible, mobile and help decrease pain. Of course it’s really important not to overdo it and to do the exercises that are appropriate to your condition. Maybe three miles walking is just a bit too much for you at the moment?

    Have a look at these tips offered by our members that might help you:

    I’ve also linked to Let’s move with Leon - it’s a really popular exercise programme that is suited for people with arthritis:

    Other members may have suggestions for how to keep exercising- everyone on the community has experience of living with arthritis and all are friendly and supportive.

    Do let us know how you’re getting on,

    Anna ( Mod)

    Need more help? - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 1,138

    Hi Lilydog, yes it is perfectly normal to feel that bad for that long after such a long walk.

    Your condition is very very similar to mine in both diagnosis and time scale.

    I used to find that after a day’s ride on my motorcycle I couldn’t move in the evening and had to take a hot bath for at least half an hour or more to get my back moving again but you know it took me ages to make the connection that it was the riding that was doing me in.

    You must be very resilient if you can still walk 3 miles with all your problems.

    I rely a lot on my wheelchair now instead of walking and I make up for not walking by doing exercises at home. That way if I have had enough I’m not struggling to walk home with my stick, I can simply stop exercising and take a break. I urge you to listen to your body and realise that if you are in a bad way for three days after a marathon walk then perhaps you are overdoing it.

    It is important to stay active, but equally so it is important to treat yourself in a way that doesn’t damage your bones anymore than they are already. Again took me ages to realise this but I’m in a good place now and I’m no longer a slave driver to myself but I allow myself to take it easy when I have to.

    As far as actual exercises I do simple core and leg exercises;

    laying on back cycling legs slowly and low to the ground for as long as i can till the abs are burning.

    lay on front lifting torso off the ground and holding for a second or so, can’t do to many of those as it is uncomfortable verging on painful for my back

    and squats with no weights, just a simple squat so knee bent almost 90 deg.

    I don’t do any upper body exercises as i get enough of a workout lifting my 2 year old son onto my lap every few seconds it seems like when he’s up and down off my lap when I’m in my wheelchair.

    Lastly back in 2012/13 when i first went on to prescribed pain killers my doc at the time said don’t put any weight on. Well I’m 6’3” and I weighed 11st 6 with the remains of a surfer’s physique at that time and although I’m no longer ripped I am still the same weight. I have at times been very depressed and put on weight due to lack of exercise and over eating and every time that has happened I have had much more pain in my back. The last time quite recently and it’s been the hardest time of all to get the weight back off and under control.

    So there’s my 2c worth. Hope it helps.

  • Lilydog66
    Lilydog66 Member Posts: 10

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this interesting reply. I suppose I am trying to carry on as I always have but my body has other ideas! Although I've had these issues for a long time they seem to have suddenly got worse. I had an epidural spinal injection in August which did nothing. If I remain still I can be pain free but that's impossible lol. I have a demanding job which leaves me exhausted but I managed to go part time not so long ago. I think from what you say, it's about finding balance. I admire your will power to keep exercising. I recognise where you say that it didn't dawn on you that certain things you were doing were causing you pain. I suffer from awful fatigue and I'm only just realising its connection to pain. People look at you and because you look well they don't realise that you're in pain every time you move. Thanks once again for your reply. It's good to hear from someone who understands.


  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 1,138

    You’re welcome Lily.

    couple of things;

    I too had spinal injections that did nothing, consultant couldn’t believe I was still in pain after he injected me twice.

    My pain also seemed to suddenly get worse, unfortunately on more than one occasion.

    I am 53 years old now. About 3 years ago my doctor sent me for an MRI with a view to surgery, unfortunately I have so much going on in my lumbar and neck no surgery is possible. This prompted me to ask why am I in this state when I’ve always eaten a healthy diet and stayed very very fit??

    My doctor’s reply was that my career took a massive toll on my body. I was under stress most of the time and suffered constant IBS from my early 20s. This she said was a major factor. I put this because of what you have said about your work.

    Fatigue is a result of constant pain and the body’s battle to keep overcoming it. I take a siesta most days around midday. I don’t always sleep but just laying down helps take the weight off my spine and reduces my pain. My osteo says i should consider laying down whenever a normal person would be sitting, say watching tv in the evening etc.

    I like what you put about normal people not realising we are in constant pain because we appear okay. I often say to family / friends when I am frustrated with them because they ask “why don’t you want to do” - insert any activity like shopping going for a walk flying to the moon etc …….. “If you had my pain for 5 minutes and realised it was for the rest of your life you wouldn’t cope!” And it makes them think.

    Enough of me ranting

    All the best

  • jamieA
    jamieA Member Posts: 744

    Hi @Lilydog66

    I have spinal stenosis along with psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. I have always been a walker both when I was working and since I retired. When PsA hit in 2020 it put a halt to my hill walking with my dog but since then I've continued to walk but on flat surfaces - inclines and declines give me problems. I'm just completing a second course of physiotherapy and the physio always stresses the need to keep moving - even if it's only by walking. My dog died suddenly in early August and I really struggled to get myself out to walk without my companion. I could really feel a stiffening up all over in the following months. Luckily a young pup came into our lives late September and I'm now walking him a couple of times a day and that - along with the physiotherapy course - is helping greatly. Could you see if your GP could refer you to NHS physiotherapy ? Here in Glasgow it's actually a self referral process. The course I'm doing is actually a one-to-one online zoom type course which I've found very helpful. It's run on a service called nhs.attendanywhere.com and the physio conducts the session from her own home. I've also posted recently about a scheme run by Nuffield Health which is a free of charge 12 week physio course. You could check to see if there's one in your area. I'm due to attend an appointment this Friday with them to see if I fit the criteria - I know two people that have already attended these courses and really rate them.

    I hope you find something that helps soon.

  • Lilydog66
    Lilydog66 Member Posts: 10

    Thank you so much for this. There is a Nuffield Gym not far from me. I will definitely look into that. I need to get back to swimming and focusing on me but seem stuck in a rut just trying to get through each day and keep working, albeit part time. Sorry, I feel like I'm moaning. I think it's dawning on me that this pain isn't shifting any time soon.

    Once again, thank you for your reply. I must also say how sorry I am for the loss of your dog. I know how hard it is. Enjoy your new puppy.


  • jamieA
    jamieA Member Posts: 744

    Hi @Lilydog66

    Thanks for the condolence about my dog Ben - he was a great loss at only 6 and a half through osteosarcoma. The pup - Finn - can't replace him but he's a great little character and is a force of nature in his own right.

    Looking at many of the comments on this site I think many people go through a significant dip when the realisation of their diagnosis sinks in - I know I did. I think I'm out the other side of that now. It's a different life to that I'd envisaged in my retirement but I hope to make the most of it whilst realising my limitations. I'm walking about 50-60kms a week again now, I'm back to enjoying cooking and slowly getting back to my hobby of photography. My days of DIY however are gone I think !

    I hope you can get the help you need to get to a stable point soon.

  • MaureenB
    MaureenB Member Posts: 29

    Hi Lilydog66

    so sorry to hear that that your preferred exercise of walking is giving you such pain afterwards. I have been lucky enough to have had both hips replaced but still have osteoarthritis in my lower back and degenerate discs at l4/l5. The second hip replacement has helped with disc/ back pain as the hip and discs were on the same side.

    I have done pilates for years and its brilliant for supporting your core and back. A lot of it can be mat based so its easy on your joints. And you can do it at home. Before my first hip replacement, I was going to the gym and doing aquafit, swimming, cycling, pilates and weight training. Cycling I found didn't hurt at all, so its worth trying different things to see how much you can gain with no pain. I also spent evenings lying on the floor watching TV rather than sitting.

    Pain is fatiguing, especially as its often worse in bed. I made my partner move to another room so I could fold my arthritic hip leg up on a pillow when lying on my side as it was the most comfortable position!

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 433
    edited 15. Jan 2023, 02:58

    Hello @Lilydog66 I caught arthritis about two years ago. My first attack I was laid out barely able to move arms and legs swollen feet and hands.

    Walking 3 mile limit sounds about right. I found it is a combination from both the distance, and from the length of time just standing up with weight on the joints. After that it becomes painful, or risks an ache attack in the evening from cold aches and stiffness.

    My actual walking limit seems to be around 6k steps bang on. After that I am in the red zone.

    There is a lot more I could say about it but you only asked about the distance. What I will add though is after doing the walk for a month I was able to get on my bicycle as if nothing much was wrong, and swing my legs over the bath. I'm exaggerating slightly, but I just thought I would mention that in case you think walking won't change anything. It can and it will.