Walking Outdoors

Hi –

I’m wondering if anyone can help or advise me, here, please.

Prior to my MS diagnosis three years ago, I was an avid woodland-goer. I enjoyed both woodlands with man-made trails and also following the more natural, hidden trails in the woods and fields. When I received my diagnosis of both MS and Transverse Myelitis, I felt that spending time doing this was no longer an option for me and it’s caused me some grief.

This year I’m wanting to change that and look at what I can do, rather than thinking myself limited in this area. I can still walk, but it’s with a traditional walking stick as I have little sensory/control ability in one of my legs, and I get tired easily so have to take lots of breaks, and I use a wheelchair intermittently … But I miss my woodland visits so much.

So … Does anyone have similar experiences to share? If you were an active hiker or walker, how did you adapt when your MS affected your time outside?

I wondered about hiking/walking poles – is it worth investing in a pair to help me with rougher terrain? Is there anything I need to look out for or consider when buying these?

Can anyone offer any other advice as to how to get back outside again?

Thank you! xx

This all chimes so much with my own experience, and I really feel for you. Walking was one of my chief pleasures too. My days of doing proper walks (you will know what I mean by that), going on walking holidays etc are gone, alas. But two hiking poles (and it does take two) allow me to walk a lot further on rough ground than I could manage without them (not that this is saying much, admittedly). But it does mean I can manage to toddle into our local woods under my own steam, and even back again, once the weak leg has been restored by a leisurely picnic lunch. For me, the important - and difficult - thing is to be pleased about that rather than consumed with savage misery that this is all I can now manage. Now and again I do rage at how unfair it seems that such a simple and benign pleasure has been narrowed down so brutally. Sod that for a game of soldiers, though. The glass we have is the only one there is, so the trick is to be grateful that it’s still half full.

Buy yourself a pair of hiking poles, lace up the boots/trainers (very, very light-weight footwear is a must for me now). There are expensive poles, but I honestly can’t see the point of shelling out for those when cheap ones seem to do the job every bit as well. But just getting out in the fresh air and off the beaten track and into open country is such a tonic. I do find it exhausting - even a short walk is ridiculously effortful and wipes me out for days - but it’s always worth it.



hi heathwitch

i agree that walking poles are brilliant.

they help to keep you in a good upright posture, whilst a single walking stick makes you stoop.

i have 2 fairly cheap hiking poles although i haven’t used them for two years.

i’m keeping them for when (not if) i can use them again.

carole (streetwitch)


If a single walking stick makes you stoop, it’s the wrong length. I use one every day and don’t have any problems. Having said that, hiking poles are better for trail walking. A pair of poles gives better support, and more stability on uneven ground. Get a pair of cheap poles and start walking again. You could start with short walks and gradually increase the distance, or take a break before heading back.

Try selecting easier routes that suit your abilities better and include plenty of those essential rest stops. I found I saw far more wildlife by sitting still than I ever did striding purposefully, so adjust your expectations and enjoy the forest.

Apparently, two hiking poles help to reduce the effort taken when walking, which sounds like a good idea. Most outdoor shops sell them and those made of aircraft aluminium are both strong and light.

This will give you some idea of what is available.

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