When you have, let’s say, a ‘limiting’ condition that requires you to think differently when doing daily tasks, you learn to think outside the box. Your priorities are different to the norm.
I recently went to look at a new car, and although the looks, capabilities, economy and, yes okay, the colour are important, nothing is more important than the sitting position. So irrespective of all the above, and what the engine is, if the seating position for my straight spine doesn’t suit, then the car is a no go. I can tell that within a minute or so. The sales assistance gets all poised for the technical data to impress me, and I’m already out of the vehicle saying, not for me thank you very much. They almost stand with their mouths open as if to question what just happened! Most seats are shaped to support a normal ‘s’ curvature of the spine, and the head rest is usually slightly forward to the upper part of the seat, none of which are good for me. So I’m still looking!
Dog walking too is an activity where I have had to think outside the box. I am lucky enough to do a lot of dog walking, I love it. But my days of conventional lead holding with my hands are over. Most people with back problems, and that includes the neck and shoulders, not just Ankylosing Spondylitis afflicted people, but many of the patients I treated with back, neck, arm and wrist problems got the same advice. Look at how you use your body when walking the dog, more so perhaps if it’s dogs. Most people you see are having one arm tugged forward on a tight pulling lead, and the jerking and jarring will undoubtedly either hurt or hinder any condition.
We use harnesses on our dogs, I personally do not like seeing a collar round the throat of a dog. The harness gives, in my opinion, better control as you take the power out of the forelegs of a dog when you need to restrain it. It’s also great in helping you lift the dog into a car, over a gate or fence, it also lets the dogs head be free to sniff and move.
I have had to change to using a handsfree lead that goes around my middle; I then attach an elasticated tracer to the harness. Whilst our dogs are pretty good at walking without pulling, there are occasions when they see something too good to ignore and they, in a blink of an eye, will change direction and or pace. Ordinarily that would jar and certainly hurt. With the set up I use, it is very much minimised, the elasticated tracer softens the jerk. I have an elasticated lead too, on days I am extra cautious about my neck. And when I want to move them on, I use my body in walking forward, I don’t use my arm to pull them, it’s so much easier.
Of course dog training is very important, and like I say, ours are pretty good. But I do like a dog to enjoy their walk, and have a bit of spirit in their character, instead of robotically walking by your side showing no interest in the countryside around them; but that is my choice. Ours get plenty of free running round our field, but discipline on a lead is an essential part of their daily routine.
So before you decide, walking a dog is too painful on your wrists, shoulders, neck or back, try thinking outside the box and try a long lead round your middle, or invest in a purpose made jogging lead. It may prolong your dog walking days for years, so you and your beloved four legged friend can exercise in comfort today, tomorrow and beyond . . . so it’s a win win for all concerned!