Walking for chronic pain: hiking with friends

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A few weeks ago I went hiking with friends. I had an amazing day and thought I’d write a quick blog post about it to share why I absolutely loved it and how it helped me.

Blog post title Alice walking through a woods

Where did we hike?

I met two of my friends who also have chronic pain. We all have different pain and symptoms but hiking and walking is something we can all do and is something we all enjoy. We live in different parts of the country – Lancashire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire – and met in a central location, near Saddleworth, to ensure we didn’t all have too far to travel.

Travelling can be painful for me, but I was eager to do it as I knew I’d have a brilliant day.

The worst bit!

My friend who planned the hike warned us of the steep incline for the first couple of miles. I said I’d be fine, and thought I would be, but I nearly ended up passing out – I got too hot too quick, and didn’t take as many breaks as I should’ve done.

The uphill part of our walk grass and track
The final uphill section at the beginning of our walk – we had lunch by the monument

I was clearly the unfittest of the three of us, but I blame the fact that where I live there are no hills, so I’m just not used to them these days. I also didn’t drink as much as I should as I was far too worried I’d keep needing the toilet.

My friends really looked after me, and let me lie on their coats – I couldn’t sit down due to my pain. My trousers got went lying on the damp grass and this meant I soon got cold. It’s a good job I had all the right gear; I just wish I’d put my waterproof trousers on before I laid down!

Being prepared

As my regular readers will know, I love being organised and prepared. People tell me I am practical and resourceful, and I think a lot of this is to do with my anxiety. I like to think things through and plan for different outcomes. So having the right gear for my hike was essential.

I spent most of the day before getting all my gear together and making my packed lunch. I loved a packed lunch and picnics, and I also needed food that would give me energy, as I hadn’t done a hike like this in a long time.

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I had waterproofs, high energy food, a phone charger, a woolly hat, some gloves, money and my bank card, a full bottle of drink and some spare cordial (I don’t do plain water), and I even had a tea towel which came in very handy to dry the wooden bench where we had our picnic. I did forget a bin bag for some rubbish and my anti-bacterial gel, but between the three of us we had it all covered.

Now I don’t normally sit on a wooden bench as it’s just two painful – it’s one of the 3 things that I struggle to do. But on this occasion I had a lot of comfy padding to sit on as my friends let me use their coats. I couldn’t sit for long, but while I did I made the most of the views and thoroughly enjoyed the moment.

The bench at the top of the hill and view across the land
The uphill struggle was worth the effort to have this view at the top

Hiking with friends is a brilliant distraction

I love walking; 90% of the time I’m not in pain when I do it, and it is brilliant for my mental health and wellbeing. Doing a hike like this, getting in to the countryside, and spending quality time with friends is a brilliant distraction – it keeps you focused on the present moment, and you really do feel like you are getting away from everything and the worries of day-to-day life.

Alice and her two friends on her hike
Me (on the left) with my two friends on our hike – look at how happy we are!!

How I felt afterwards

After doing our hiking we decided to wander around the local town and we went for a drink before setting off home. I thought I’d want a coffee to give me a caffeine boost to get me home, but I didn’t fancy anything hot. Instead, I had a Party Ring milkshake which was absolutely delicious!

It was no surprise that I was in more pain by the time I had driven home. I was also pretty shattered – we had walked nearly 6 miles over 2.5 hours.

But despite this, I had the best day. The pain and fatigue were worth it, and I cannot wait for our next walk.

Your thoughts

What do you like to do that makes you feel good, even if it makes your pain worse?

Do you like hiking like I do?

Have you ever had a Party Ring milkshake???

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