Hiking the Engadine: Avoid arthritis pain

Gentle Reader,

I am back safe and sound from my hike through the Engadine Valley in the Alps in Switzerland and the Writers Workshop in Villa Lina north of Rome.  And my body is not suffering from arthritis!  Sitting in the airplane for the long flight to Amsterdam, the first stop of my journey, I actually slept with the help of medication, Lunesta is my sleeping aid of choice, a prescription only drug that costs plenty.  I used it twice on the trip to help me get into the European hemisphere and the first night back home.  Otherwise, Gentle Sleep Complex, an herbal combination of Valerian, passion flower and chamomile.  It works like a dream to take 3 before going to bed, no matter what hotel I found myself in.

The real challenge to a body with a lot of spinal stenosis and potential joint discomfort is hauling suitcases and loading the heavy hiking pack up onto my shoulders.  Paying close attention to all the good advice I have posted over the past 1 ½, and asking for help getting in and out of trains—“you’re looking strong.  Can you help me with my suitcase, please?”—I managed to arrived back home without pulling a muscle from lifting suitcases.  Read on to see what a silly thing I did to pull a muscle badly.

I’d like to share my challenges with you in case you ever encounter similar problems.  You might avoid the same pitfalls.

First, a little back ground.  I am in a hiking group that hits the trails in the Pacific Northwest every Wednesday, rain or shine, except for January and February when we cross country ski.  Keep moving to keep arthritis at bay, is our motto.  Of all the gals in our group, Pedie took me up on taking a hike in Switzerland.  Jaco, our friend and fellow hiker who has returned to her homeland in the Netherlands to live out her life, was eager to join us as she missed our weekly hiking and friendship.  She, Pedie and I all celebrate our 75th birthdays this year, so this was an added incentive.  Our fourth hiker was Chris, already 83 yrs old. May I just add here that we met plenty of older people hiking as this sort of trekking is not unusual in Europe. Jaco and I took an overnight train to Zurich and then a train to the southeast part of Switzerland to join the other two.  You’ll recognize the place names St. Moritz and Davos if you follow the rich and famous.  We stuck to smaller, less glitzy places.

Our first stop in the Engadine valley was a town called Scuol.  It is famous in Europe for its mineral baths and the modern spa is worth the trip.  I had so much luggage that I had exploded into a collapsible cloth bag to make my back pack as light as possible and still not leave anything behind that I might need on the trail. We were walking from one village to the next, up over the mountains and needed to be ready for any change in the weather.  Ryder/Walker, our self guided tour company, arranged for our luggage to be taken to the next hotel along the way, arriving in our rooms well ahead of us.

Helping with jet lag and pounding our muscle into jelly, we spent a luxurious afternoon soaking in the mineral baths, going from super hot indoors, through the watery opening into the sun, blue sky and swirling outdoor pool with its jets and waterfall showers.  By the time I got back to the hotel, I was a noodle.

Here’s the trouble #1.  I spent half an hour bent over my luggage rearranging things to begin hiking the next day.  When I tried to stand up, all the muscles in my lower back had stretched out and refused to budge.  Here I was, pain shooting through my body, unable to catch my breath or stand and walk to dinner.  I got out my theraband and hit the floor with stretches and exersizes; filled the ice bag I had brought just in case and took a couple Pain Relief Complex herbal Cox 2 and 5 Loc inhibitors, pain pills that don’t hurt your stomach.  I’m the one who put this great hiking experience together and I wasn’t going to be able to walk a mile, much less carry a pack.

After a fabulous 8 course dinner and a bottle of Swiss wine between us, more ice and Pain Relief Complex, a good night’s sleep, and a ice bag tucked into my hiking pants, I was ready to walk it out this next morning.  It worked.  Walking is the best thing for lower back pain.  After about a half hour, I was ready to dump the ice and the rest of the 6 days I was free of lower back difficulties. 

The take away from this is

1.  Never do any extreme movements after a hot tub, deep tissue massage or the pummeling pleasure of a mineral springs spa.  I should not have bent over rearranging my luggage, and a little voice told me that at the time, to which I paid no attention.

2.  Don’t give up on yourself when you do pull a muscle.  Ice, stretch and do your best to walk it out.  This idea of lying flat on your back and taking muscle relaxants, in my opinion and long time experience, is not the way to handle lower back pain.  I have loosened up sciatica several times in the past by icing, stretching and walking.

Now, Please, tell us your methods for dealing with this kind of muscle pain, how you got yourself into the mess in the first place and how you got out of it.  We all want to learn from each other.  So go ahead, leave a comment, and sign up to get notification of my next posting which will take you on down the trail in the Engadine to the next near calamity on our great adventure.

Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

BetsyBell’s Health4u

www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

206 933 1889  1 888 283 2077

betsy@hihohealth.com

 

Comments

  1. Grandma Penny says

    Hi Betsy,
    I read with interest about your trip to Switzerland and Italy–both beautiful places worthy of long stays and exploration! However, I wanted to share my non-drug solution to jet lag which has worked for me on many trips abroad. I discovered the No More Jet Lag packet at the FriendShop–the downtown Seattle library gift shop in 2005 just before I embarked on a trip to S. Africa. The packet includes two dials which you set for your time of departure and time of arrival. These indicate accupressure points that one should use upon arrival which will help “reset” one’s time clock to your new location. I was skeptical, but knew I had an overnight stop in London scheduled so the trip would not seem so long. I followed the directions when I arrived–late afternoon, ate an early dinner, took a hot bath and slept through the night. I awoke refreshed and spent the entire day touring London–The Eye, the Tate Modern Art Musem, took in a play and ate fish and chips for dinner at a local pub. I only felt a wee tad tired during the play I chose–a serious one. I probably would have dozed off anyway!! I arrived back at the airport in time to catch my 8 p.m. fight to Johannisberg feeling only a bit weary from sightseeing.
    I was convinced and have used this method on all my many travels since then. The FriendShop no longer carries this item but I did order it on line from the creator Dr.Krebs at http://www.nomorejetlag.com.au/drcharleskrebs.html. Great–easy to pack, no pills involved and it works!
    Note this is NOT the No More Jet Lag advertised on Amazon.

    • Grandma Penny says

      Note that the above “therapy” involves massaging pressure points indicated on the chart. Easy, soothing and sometimes comical in the way one must reach certain points at the same time. Remember that game where you put your feet and hands in circles according to the toss of this dice!

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