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Fitting a Leg Injury Into Your Dog Walking Schedule

It started as a vague, naggingsoreness on the outside of my left lower leg; I ignored it. Pretty soon, it blossomed into excruciating pain that...

Julia Szabo  |  Mar 28th 2011


It started as a vague, naggingsoreness on the outside of my left lower leg; I ignored it. Pretty soon, it blossomed into excruciating pain that radiated between my knee and ankle, then all the way down to thefoot and up tothe lower back. I’m not sure what exactly happened to bring this on, but most likely I took a wrong step somewhere, twisting my bodywithout turning my foot. Now I’m paying the price – and how.

The obvious cure for anyleg or foot injury is to stay off it. With my lifestyle, that’s not an option.I could hire a dog walker, but that’s not in the budget right now. So I’ve decided towalk through the pain.

Of all the bumps I’ve encountered on theroad to a happy, healthy,incident-free dog walk – from waking up with the flu or a mysterystomachbug toside-stepping winter hazards or broken glass on the sidewalk – I’ve never felt so defeated as I have over the past few days. The other night, returning from the day’s last dog-walking shift, my left knee andheel were throbbing and my toes and arch were numb. Iactually caughtmyselfwhimpering.

I can’t believe I managed not to let my dogs down. So I’m sharing what worked for me, in case this ever happens to you.

First, I made an appointment with my chiropractor. The docdid what she could, and I feltamazingly muchbetter. I even stood noticeably taller! But by the next day, aftera fewdog-walks,I was pretty much back where I started: Slumped over in agony. My next appointment wasn’t forseveral days, so I broke out the Arnica.

This homeopathic remedy, which I call a dog walker’s best friend,does wonders for muscle soreness and bruising. With the blessing of my holistic vet, Dr.Jill Elliot,I’ve even used Arnica on my dogs when they’ve suffered bruising. But I’ve never experienced this kind of severe leg pain before. Then I remembered something I’dnoticed on a recent trip to the health food store: Ahigher strength of Arnica.

The kind I’ve always taken comes in a blue tube marked 30C. But Boiron Arnica also comes in a purple tube marked 200C. Arnica 30C has amazing healing properties; I could only imagine what 200-strength would do! I figured it was time to add this big gun to myfirst-aid kit, so I crawled to the health food store to acquire some.Instead of 5 pellets, I took 3 whenever the pain became too much.

It’s official: I’ve graduated from health nut to health junkie. But I’ll do whatever it takes to meet my dogs’ exercise needs.

About half an hour after taking the Arnica, I took another homeopathic remedyto combatthe numbness in my foot: Hypericum Perforatum 30C, which workson the nerves (it helped me a great deal a few years back, when I caught my fingerip in my front door). Nowadays, I don’t leave home without both little tubes – Arnica and Hypericum – safely tucked in the inside pocket of my North Face jacket.

Immediately before each dog walk, I prep my leg by rubbing it with PanAway. Thisextraordinarily healing, therapeutic-grade oilquickly gets to work, soothing the leg muscles so they don’t seize up. (This is especially important when it’s freezing cold out, as it was this morning in New York City.) Right away, you feel a surge of invigorating warmth wherever you apply PanAway, and few things are as comforting asits singulararoma of wintergreen andother essentialoils.

Of course my dogs immediately notice the scent, and start sniffing inquisitively around my leg. Now, they pretty much associate the smell of PanAway with the pleasant prospect of an outing. It’sextremely cute to see Cupcake sitting at attention by the door, as if to say,”Pick Me First!”

Have you ever had to walk your dogs despite excruciating muscle soreness? Please share what worked for you in the comments!