• Tips for Hiking with Arthritis

    Aug 11th • Posted in Chronic life, Lifestyle

    Tips for Hikinh with Arthritis

    I am delighted to have Aine Cooney on Curly Sue Review today to talk about her experience of hiking with arthritis. Aine suffers from sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis but she’s not about to let it hold her back. Whether you suffer with osteoarthrits, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis you’ll know that it can be very hard to exercise. Hiking is something some of us would never dream of doing, but Aine took the challenge. Here are her tips for hiking with arthritis.

    Ignorance is bliss. This is what I learned during my climb of Croagh Patrick

    I wanted to do something crazy! I just wanted to let loose and who better to ring than my buddy Jim. I suggested we go for a few drinks. I rarely if ever drink my bones protest too much.  Who knew by the end of the conversation I would agree to climb a mountain. I often wonder about my thought process!

    I fretted all week, asking people of their experiences but really not taking anything on board. I had considered buying hiking boots but someone kindly told me Croagh Patrick would not be the best way to break them in. I thought my sturdier regular trainers would do, after all, people twice my age do this (shoeless sometimes!). How hard could it be? I didn’t have a backpack either I didn’t have time to get one so I decided to off load on Jim on the day.

    Driving along in a crowded car the mountains come into view. Westport always took my breath away, there is that perfect moment of the combination of the town below with the beauty of the mountains ahead.  I was taking it all when suddenly someone shouted “Is that it?” I replied that it was, suddenly, with an intake of breath, what I was about to do dawned on me. That’s it there is no way I can do this, what was I thinking?  You are an idiot, you are with a group of capable fit people! With a deep breath, I forced myself to calm down and just see what would happen.

    Pace Yourself

    We began to climb, but by the time we reached the top of the first set of steps my joints were screaming. I felt raw and sore. My movements were already slow and painful and real moments of doubt started to creep their way in. I persisted further along, telling the others to go ahead. I took my water bottle from them and had a small rest.   “Pace yourself.” I have heard this many times in relation to arthritis but I’ve never really listened. I learned to pace that day and have far more determination then I give myself credit for.  I would pick a destination ahead to reach and then take a rest and so on so forth.

    I persisted all the while my joints loosened out and the pain subsided. I really started to enjoy myself and took time to converse with others along the way.   That day I learned that people can be kind.  Towards the top people on their way back were full of kind words of encouragement. I think without them, I may have just stopped.

    Get Equipped!

    Do not wear cheap leggings! At times while sitting, or crawling I swear I thought I would tear them. I had visions of people getting a view of my rear end along the way.

    Even though I found the heavy bottle hard to carry near the end, I wouldn’t have been without it. It’s really important to stay hydrated while climbing or hiking. I think a water bottle with a strap would have been helpful. A kind stranger eventually took it off my hands near the end! Thank you whoever you are. I never did catch up with you.

    Bring a stick along you will need it to support you if the going is not easy or occasionally slippery.  Do take the time to enjoy your surroundings it is beyond breath taking and so worth it. It has empowered me to do more hikes and trails — although nothing like Croagh Patrick.  It has given me a passion for hiking I didn’t know existed.

    If you are going on a longer hike and have the option to stay overnight — take it. The journey to the mountain and the driving after we were done was very tiring.

    My joints did seize up a little bit when I got home but ultimately I didn’t care I had loved this achievement so much. Do pace yourself and try to go it alone. I think this is the only reason I made it to the top.  I didn’t compete or compare myself to others. (Although I did have moments with many people many years older appearing to fly up ahead of me!)  Do allow a recovery time for a couple of days after your Hike. The days following the climb were difficult; I needed a day of complete rest for my tired and painful joints.

    Start Small

    I am glad I didn’t google it ahead of climbing. I am glad I carelessly decided to climb a mountain! Even though my arthritis is well controlled, I will say that I would have benefited from a better fitness level. That’s why I’m sticking to smaller trails for now. I would recommend you start small and work up.

    Climbing and hiking has awarded me with the knowledge that I had given this disease a bit too much it power over my thought process by allowing me to doubt myself and fearing a flare.

    Thanking you for taking the time to read.  I hope if you consider this climb (or any other hike) in the future that my few words have helped.  I also need to recognise with a huge heartfelt thanks to Jim and crew who also encouraged me to participate and who unknowingly gave me a love for hiking I never knew I had.


    Aine Cooney


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    Tips for Hiking with Arthritis
    Tips for Hiking with Arthritis

    • I like people who pursue what they want even though it’s hard at the moment. Isn’t it amazing to get ahead of yourself and just do it? You just need to surround yourself with supportive people and voila! hehe. I’m glad you were able to hike, the view from above is really stunning and absolutely worth it. 🙂

    • Such a different but helpful post. More than the joy of traveling and adventure, you’ve tackled here one reality most of us may soon experience – have arthritis. My friend complained to me weeks ago that she’s suffering from one and she just turned 40. Too soon as I told her.

      Reading your post, I could imagine the difficulty of hiking and being outside your comfort zone as you experience the pain of arthritis. But then it gives a lesson too that such condition shouldn’t hinder us from doing what we wanted to do.

    • Wow, her story is truly inspiring. I love the fact that despite her bad arthritis condition, she still manage to hike and push herself to be more equipped. I know how hard it is to hike or climb mountains cause I’ve been climbing mountains several times as well. Knowing her condition, I’m more motivated. I’ll surely share this to my friend who happens to experience the same thing and she totally stop to go back to her first love which is hiking. She will surely be inspired of this. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Hiking with arthritis can be really difficult if you don’t prepare for it.These tips are really helpful.I am also with knee pain.Seriously I don’t plan any hiking.But I will use these tips for my travelling holidays which require walking and climbing steps.

    • Joanna says:

      You are very brave for going over your condition and doing something you like. I can imagine how hard it must be, as I am a hiker as well and I know the struggles when you are on a trail. Starting small is surely a good advice! Success never came through a big leap, it is always built thought small steps. We are so much more than our bodies tell us we are!

    • Teresa says:

      That was a feat! But I agree that it’s best to start small and to pace yourself. These are really helpful tips for those who want to hike. I’m just not the type. Hahaha

    • Nadine says:

      I don’t know what arthritis feels like but I can imagine that it can be crippling, to a certain degree. I think my favorite tip out of all the three is “start small.” It takes off the pressure to achieve something. It shows that little things can make such a big difference. I think it also means being honest with yourself and what you can do, and being okay with it. 🙂

    • So glad that you finally made it. I won’t sound cliched about determination and other high sounding words but please consult a doctor after every such trip. Am I sounding a pessimist? No. I am writing this because I want you to travel all the world- arthritis or no arthritis.

    • Truly an inspiring article that makes you wanna pack the stuff and go hiking immediately. I do not suffer from any of these illneses but despite that I usually find thousands of excuses for dropping from hiking. This article has definitively made me reconsider my priorities. Keep it up and maybe one day our roads will cross and we can take a walk together.

    • I don’t have arthritis yet but I found your post equally helpful. It’s a great reminder for us as well to those planning to hike or for first time hikers. I think the most important is to research the level of difficulty of the mountain one is planning to hike. Everything else follows 🙂

    • Nilyn says:

      Great that you didn’t let your arthritis stop you from hiking. Last Monday, we hiked to Timberland heights also, it’s a known highland near the area. I don’t have arthritis but it was too hard for someone like me who doesn’t hike often. I would find myself catching my breath often times. lol.

    • Wow! Props for achieving a goal despite the pain. I’ve never had arthritis but I could imagine the pain, since some of the people I know experience them. It’s really important when you have a chronic illness to always be ready with the right stuff. Hiking is no joke.

    • Erica says:

      Very helpful tips. I havent had the experience though of arthritis while hiking but i get to feel some symptoms in some nigts. It is important for me to have a tight socks when i sleep.

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