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300 pounds and hurtin


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I'm 300 pounds.  Walking hurts.  I can't get far, maybe to the mailbox and back, without a lot of back pain.  My current goal is probably pathetic, just 5 minutes of walking (or even marching in place) a day.  But I was wondering if there are other exercises someone of my large size could do to help alleviate the back pain.  Any ideas?

A year from now, you may wish you had started today.


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There's no such thing as a pathetic goal.  Goals are simply milestones that we must all cross to achieve that which is further away.


As for the back pain, have you tried tightening your abs while you walk?  It helped me when I started out with the walking, because it supports your core better to take the pressure from the lower back.

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Been there.


In 2000 I was over 300 lbs. at 5'7" and had lost a lot of muscle over the previous two years being mostly bedridden with a serious illness.  Finally healthy-ish (as in not spending one out of three days unable to leave my bed), I had to get moving again and it was *hard*.  The only good thing that I had going for me is that, while I've always been heavy, I got that obese while mostly confined to bed, so I didn't have the chance to do serious knee/hip damage trying to move that weight around every day.


Is the back pain you have clearly muscle pain, or do your have concern about your spine?  If you've ever had a spinal injury, see your doctor to find out if you need physical therapy to kick off your movement to get in shape.  Old spinal injuries have a habit of leaving odd gotchas around in very sedentary people, and rehabilitating that sort of thing carefully can save you a lifetime of misery.


Assuming that what you are feeling is muscle fatigue in your back, consider the following:

  • Continue working on very small but very frequent bits of walking.  Remember that a fall can set your progress back considerably, so stop when you are tired and don't risk a fall.
  • Stay hydrated and watch your electrolytes.  It's easy to blow off what you are doing as "not real exercise" but at your current fitness level, it is exercise.  Your body will be less stressed if it's getting enough hydration.
  • Try walking barefoot if you have good surfaces for it, or try buying really good new shoes.  Worn-out shoes can do a number on your back, and very heavy people tend to wear shoes out faster and pay less attention to them.  At least, I did when I was very heavy.  I tended to buy what was cheap and blow shoes off as not a good place to spend my money.  Looking back, the only reason I didn't screw myself up too badly with those habits was that I'm a redneck girl who goes barefoot 90% of the time.  When I moved to more urban environs and had to wear shoes all the freaking time, I started getting back pain (even though I was used to lots of walking by this point) and it took me a while to figure out that my cruddy shoes were at fault.
  • I'm not sure what fitness level you are at, but if you want specifically to strengthen your back, you might try doing hip raises... just lie flat on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, knees up.  Lift your hips off the ground as high as you can manage, hold for a few seconds, then rest a few seconds before trying again.  This might be on the high end of possible for you right now, so take it slow and easy.
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"What's the goal here?  What's the lesson here?  What's the best use of my time right now?" <-- Rory Miller's "three sacred questions"

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Try therapeutic/restorative/beginners yoga.  Different studios have different names, but they should steer you to the right class.  A good teacher can give you tools to address your specific issues, while helping you get stronger and generally more healthy.  I have a student that's in her 70s, weighs nearly 300Lbs, has 2 artificial knees and still comes to class smiling twice a week, her bridges are perfect!  I also have a dentist that swears he would have had to give up his practice 10 years ago due to back problems if it wasn't for yoga class keeping it strong and healthy.

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Easeful, Peaceful, Useful... "An easeful body, and a peaceful mind, allow you to become a useful person" -Swami Satchidananda


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Check your sitting position.  That's a very common cause of back pain.  And get up or shift position frequently.  A big difference between obese people and healthy people is the amount of moving and fidgeting they do, and holding one position too long will make things hurt.

  If you need a reminder, set an alarm on your phone to beep hourly (except when you're sleeping of course).  When the beep plays, stand up.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

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Echoing what everyone else said. 



Also. Keep moving. You go this. The walk to the mailbox will get easier and you'll hit those 5 minutes sooner than you think. After you hit 5 you'll go for 7 and the 5 will seem easy. It stops hurting after a while and you'll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!

Spaz Ranger


You can have results or excuses. Not both

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My current goal is probably pathetic, just 5 minutes of walking (or even marching in place) a day. 

Hey Jody, 

No goal is "Pathetic" and we all start somewhere, so congrats on starting!


My suggestion is to work your way forward.

Get a timer of some kind. 

Set it for something you're comfortable with.

Start by walking that today. 

Add 10 seconds tomorrow. Or, heck even a minute.


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