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Too Much Walking Can Be Bad For You?




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#1 Tatiana

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 08:59 AM

A little background to this post......
I have CES (Cauda Equina Syndrome), im 17 months in and my mobility is managed by spending some time upright on two crutches and the some of my time in my wheelchair.

I tend to have found a happy medium between the two..managing my muscle power by not walking too much and managing my pain by not pushing it too much. I am normally relatively comfortable (pain wise) but i do have a high pain threshold but i consider my pain level, on a 'normal' day to be relatively low, maybe 3/10.

My worse pain is nerve pain which i cannot control but can manage, to a degree, with medication.

So..to my point....in rehab once towards the end of therapy as i was due to leave rehab my upright mobilty was encouraged....in moderation at that time.
Every time i go back to my spinal unit im asked how far im managing to walk now on my crutches and am i still working hard...

I push myself and exercise as much as possible but every now and then i will take myself out of my comfort zone and try to spend more time on my crutches and walk more/further and every time i do this i suffer the consequences for doing so.

I have now come to the conclusion that i have to keep to my limits....i do not get stronger the more i walk....in fact i get worse.

The pain becomes inbearable in my lower back as if my back is seizing up and i then have to be more confined to my chair until recover and the pain starts to ease, which normally takes approx a couple of weeks at the best.
Consequently, my walking gait worsens and i become not as independent, transfers are hard work and getting out of bed etc is more difficult....basically all practical tasks are painful and uncomfortable.
I also notice that my muscle power in the muscles that have some power to them seem to tire and run out of power...and this never strengthens either with more walking or exercise or physio.....my gradings never increase now.

In fact when i went to rehab my gradings decreased due to pain i ended up in from standing too much and damn wobble boards which i hate with avengence lol ( i went to rehab 11 months post injury)



So..im wondering if in fact too much walking for us incompletes can be detrimental and does anyone else suffer this same problem?

:) all replies welcome!

Edited by Tatiana, 29 August 2012 - 09:06 AM.


#2 MTB John

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:23 AM

My Physio once said to me
'at some stage you just have to start living'

Meaning trying to gain more function has to stop and a balance needs to be found.

Personally I feel that once your gait pattern starts to worsen its time for the chair. Any walking you do after that is just putting undue strain on whatever body part is picking up the slack.

Theses days I only ever walk where the chair fails to take me, this is mostly to conserve engery but also partly because it just makes bladder management easier. I walk as part of exercise (mostly in a pool) but that's different.

You and your body need to have a little chat and decide when you should be walking and when you should be wheeling..





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#3 ClaraTaylor

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:48 AM

My physio was very much keep pushing which of course just leaves you knackered and grumpy and as MTB would put it "not living your life" so eventually she was told to trot off and a few months later I saw another one who gave me a completely different routine.
The exercises she gave me were to strengthen my entire body - not just to concentrate on the walking (a huge mental brain fart for me that thought the only point of all the exercises was to get me running again.... not that I could ever really run). We went through the list and found the starting point. It was then up to me to (over a few weeks) get myself to the point that I could do:

15 sit ups
15 bench press
15 toe / heel (where you raise onto your toes and then back onto your heels - while clinging on to the stair rail for dear life)
15 leg stretches (each leg)
15 back curls (which when you have a spine that doesn't bend is hilarious)
15....

You get the idea. She really likes the number fifteen.

Over a few weeks we brought these up to 20, then 25, then 30. But never more than 30. On a bad day I was told I HAD to do 15 whether it took an hour or six. 15 is my bottom limit. 30 is my top limit. I know I could do more and for one week she had me doing more than 30 but only for that one week and I think that was partly to humour me. We had a little diary where I would write in each day how many exercises I was doing (felt like I was filling in my homework diary from school) and more importantly we could track the good and the bad (Friday for example is almost always a bad day and so we needed to try and find things to help boost a Friday. I suggested chocolate. She didn't seem pleased at my solution). I still try and keep a record now (five years later), it helps me process the day and gives me the odd slap around the face not just when I start to sit on the base level too long but when I try to over do things, just because I can (admittedly yesterdays exploits aren't a best example of this).

She taught me that yes my body IS capable of more BUT I don't need to prove that to myself. I need to memorise that top level and when I start to approach it back off while at the same time always being aware that there is a lower limit you must force on yourself even when you don't want too. Even top athletes have their upper limits, and I care not a jot that there's is probably higher than mine because there's isn't important right now.

No one wants to see you give up and to sit back and watch your upper limit not to get harder and harder to achieve, but it's more important for you to carry on living and know that sometimes it's just more important to have fun than try to reach bench press 35.

Sounds to me like you've more than found your upper limit.
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#4 Tatiana

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:20 AM

Thankyou for the replies....i agree..its about finding your limit isnt it. I always feel guilty for some reason and feel im taking the easy option by using my chair although that isnt the case at all....i know that when ity comes down to it..i have no choice.

I dont think i quite get it that if i can stand then why cant i just walk, without these problems and why do i not get stronger no matter how i try. The problem is that no matter what professional i ask, i dont seem to get a difinitive answer and i really want to have a full understanding of my body.

I can balance in my own fashion for 30 secs without my crutches stood still..but that never gets longer....


I think i question too much.....

i go for nerve conduction studies in 3 weeks, maybe i will find out more then too.....but i agree..i do need to stop focusing so much on recovery so i can simply .....carry on with my life

#5 Tetracyclone

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:22 PM

I seem to get similar feedback from my body in that if I do much more than "usual" I pay heavily in pain and muscle "tightness", or spasticity. Usually. The situation is complicated by the fact that I may be getting symptomatic because I have not eaten enough- I have a hard time knowing, as well a knowing what foods will nourish me well. It is complicated by long-standing absorption problems.

I also encountered an attitude in PTs; young, ignorant PTs; who seemed to think that my body was like theirs. If I did more and more I would be able to do more and more. I have run into but one PT here in the US and one OT in Taiwan who were smart and insightful about me as an individual. Most seemed not to understand nerve or cord damage. I have had a few sessions with regular "personal trainers" at health clubs that were quite helpful. Anyone who watches you move for awhile might have something useful to offer, but I watch these folks and interact with them before I decide to ask one for their help. For example, last week a young guy at my club offered a simple exercise for posture that is really hard for me to do, thus very good.

Tatiana you have charted your body's abilities quite well. Trust your data and trust your conclusions.

The attitude that walking is everything and the key to good living is an old one that predates ultralite chairs. :lol: Most humans like very simple solutions, and SCI is not simple. CES may be worse.

#6 Tatiana

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:32 PM

Thanks Tetra :) ......indeed i have found this too with physios...

i want a new ultralite chair and i would love a sportschair.....in rehab i felt like i could fly when we played wheelchair rugb in those mean beasts and was far more exhilerating than any walk ive done lol

#7 Alex_J

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:00 PM

If I do too much I ache so bad nothing touches it, I go to bed, finally get to sleep, wake up and feel so sick, hot and sticky which then turns into a cold chill when I manage to pull the covers off. I then feel so so sick still and it takes me anything upto 45mins to an hour to simply roll onto my side and be half sitting up. I then stand, stretch the spasms which kills but helps a little. Through all this, I'm not crying but my eyes are watering like mad. I can't yawn or cough it hurts too much and then I get in a position where I am uncomfy (as nothing is comfy) but I can put up with and just wait for it to get to what I call my 'normal' which is always pain but pain I can work through.

For me less walking, more chair = less pain, more sleep, better mood to keep going. But I still have a 'love - hate' relationship with my chair that I have to get over!
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#8 DxM

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:19 PM

Hey Tatiana,

In a vacuum I can achieve a reasonable state of balance when it comes to walking, but add another factor in there, be that a PT, a Dr, a friend or a family member, and for one reason or another things always get complicated :(. Like you said, some of that for me as well comes from the whole feeling guilty about taking the 'easy option', not that any options available to us are actually 'easy', but it's always made worse when people stare or comment or imply that it's possible to just to walk off an SCI :ohmy: . In the company of others I usually find myself trying to keep up with them in the walking stakes, which always ends badly for me, but on my own I only walk as far and as fast as I feel able to manage :dunno: . When it comes to the consequences, the latter never leaves me in so much pain I can barely breath, where as it's common when I've done too much walking. Personally and on a physical level I know too much walking can be bad for you, hell too much walking can be bad for anyone if it's out of their usual range, but mentally it's a whole lot more confusing and that ongoing battle often leaves me a casualty of the 'how far to push myself war'. Strange as it may seem, the thing that's helped me the most in trying to be ok with all this stuff is something I noted from nature. Where a river flows, if something dams it, like a large tree for example, it'll back up for a while, but if the tree don't budge all it does is change path and flows around it. If SCI is my tree, then a wheelchair is the natural flow of the river...If that makes any sense :). I hope you're able to get one of them ultralight or sports wheelchairs at some point so you can fly.

DxM :)

Edited by DxM, 29 August 2012 - 09:21 PM.


#9 Tatiana

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:34 AM

Thanks DxM and Alex....

Alex i get the love/hate relationship thing with the chair too....times like this when i have pushed things, i need it more than ever.

DxM you explain it very well....at the moment im on a fitness thing. I plan to start wheelchair tennis lessons so i want to be as fit as possible....but because i have overdone my walking....its put me back which frustrates me so much.

I have learnt my lesson this time so my thoughts have changed on this so much........

and oh my love of sportchairs :wub: ..i can dream lol

#10 ClaraTaylor

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:57 AM

You're not taking the easy option. The easy option is to stay at home, hide under the blankets, and wish the world would go away.


You're out there strutting your stuff reminding the world you're still alive. That takes guts!
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#11 Tatiana

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:13 AM

Thankyou Clara.....us SCI gals dont do 'giving in easy 'do we lol

Well yesterday we had a thunderstorm and then it turned out real sunny so i took my dis scooter out for a ride around the lanes in the village ...and it was a lovely afternoon.....i took a pic ahead of me.....nothing amazing but it was nice to feel a warm breeze on my face.....and get about..just simple and pleasant


https://fbcdn-sphoto..._80612810_n.jpg



It took me half an hour to figure how to post that pic finding the URL :mellow: doh!

Edited by Tatiana, 30 August 2012 - 09:17 AM.


#12 JerseyBoy

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 04:35 AM

I've heard you lose hair on your head if you walk too much.

Edited by JerseyBoy, 31 August 2012 - 04:36 AM.

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#13 Tatiana

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:11 AM

I've heard you lose hair on your head if you walk too much.



ah i get this...mmmm so if i sit too much i find my mind that i lost when i ran....out of time.....to save my soul when i tripped down a hole......as i stumbled across the witch in the cove :dunno:

ha ha!

#14 wheeliebear75

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:57 PM

My Physio once said to me
'at some stage you just have to start living'

Meaning trying to gain more function has to stop and a balance needs to be found.

Personally I feel that once your gait pattern starts to worsen its time for the chair. Any walking you do after that is just putting undue strain on whatever body part is picking up the slack.

Theses days I only ever walk where the chair fails to take me, this is mostly to conserve engery but also partly because it just makes bladder management easier. I walk as part of exercise (mostly in a pool) but that's different.

You and your body need to have a little chat and decide when you should be walking and when you should be wheeling..


I 2nd what what MTB said 100%! (Get out of my head John. LOL)

And the other thing is that it isn't always easy to find a SENSIBLE Dr./PT. I'm lucky in that my Dr. sees that the w/c makes me more independent; seeing as I can safely go into the kitchen & make myself some lunch + get it back to the table.....meanwhile although the forearms are handy for tight spaces that are only a foot wide, they are NOT very conducive to carrying anything & those hands are handy to have use of (which on the forearms they're not good for doing much aside from supporting your weight).

And yes you can damage OTHER body parts by walking TOO FAR.....I've got some hip pain from that "John Wayne" I used for getting around. Also too much time on the forearms can pinch the ulnar nerve & it makes the pinky & ring fingers tingle.....if I stand/walk too long/far it comes back.

Glad you like your new physio. :specool:
*Enjoy every sunset, but be grateful for every dawn.*
*Wheelchairs are made of a special ocular magnetic alloy......they're "eyeball magnets".*
*I USE a wheelchair, that does NOT make ME a wheelchair!*

#15 MTB John

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 03:18 AM

I second what WB says, hands are very handy indeed. Unless you can walk with one crutch/cane/hand rail/lovers arm or a walker with a tray then the wheelchair wins every time in terms of practicality.

Unless you prefer eating out of the pot and standing over the sink that is..
Out of the gloom a voice said unto me, "Smile and be happy, things could be worse." So I smiled and was happy and behold things did get worse.

#16 ClaraTaylor

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 08:17 AM

Unless you prefer eating out of the pot and standing over the sink that is..


You've been spying on me again haven't you...
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