My back didn’t have a very good December. It got really cold in Salt Lake City, I abandoned my eight-mile-round-trip bike ride to work every day and I’m pretty sure I strained it bowling three games on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The result: an irritating dose of sciatica on the left side that lingered through two sessions of deep-tissue massage, my regular core routine and my twice-weekly weight lifting routine (low weight, high reps).
But today, as I type, I’m going on more than a week of no pain whatesoever. And I’m convinced its due to walking – the oldest, most trusted weapon in my chronic pain arsenal.
I walked about 25 miles this week, getting most of the miles in on four-mile one-way trips to work. Each trip takes about an hour of brisk walking that really gives my legs a workout. This mode of transportation has its advantages – it’s free and it’s a gives me time to myself to think and relax.
It’s also carbon-neutral which is a huge bonus in this town, which this winter has hosted worse air quality than L.A. for several days thanks to a weather quirk called an inversion that traps pollution and drapes the valley in a nasty brown cloud.
Commuting to work on foot is a bonus because I’m using time that I would have spent just sitting on the bus or driving – so I don’t have to set aside much extra time for workouts. While I’m lucky enough to live close enough to work to be able to walk the whole way, even those who live farther can easily build in a walk to the bus stop or park-and-ride.
But the best thing about walking is its absolute simplicity – there’s no gear, no getting in the car to drive to the gym, no throwing the bike up on the rack for the drive to the trailhead. It’s as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.