Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Solvitur Ambulando – It Is Solved by Walking

The sign usually hangs over the doorway I exit before walking. The medals are a validation of myself as an athlete.

I started having pain in my right hip. First just a twinge when I stood up, then a sharp pain when I walked, then it became a consistent ache. My first response was denial. This is not really a problem, just a little blip on the fitness radar. But it persisted to the point where I no longer wanted to walk and could see that my gait was changing as I favored that right hip.

I've never considered myself athletic. I was never on a competitive team.  My one and only sport was cheerleading in high school. When my husband’s betrayal surfaced we began to walk together on the advice of a therapist. It was supposed to be a time for us to connect and to talk through some of the problems. It was meant to be healing. I needed something to dissipate the extreme angst. Walking helped me. I can’t say it was healing for the relationship but it was healing for me. When I first heard the phrase, Solvitur Ambulando (Latin, translates to “It is solved by walking,” attributed to Saint Augustine), I resonated with the truth of it. I often cried as I walked but I kept telling myself that for me the only way out is through. I would walk long enough for the endorphins to kick in and clarity to surface. 

I became a proficient walker, participating first in 5 and 10K’s, then multiple half marathons and even completed one full marathon. One was enough! I realized that I did not want to devote the time necessary to be physically prepared to walk twenty-six point two miles. But walking remained an integral part of my life.

I have been examining beliefs I hold and questioning if they are true or simply ingrained old messages. One has to do with my body. I believed that if your body changed in some way, you had to accept and live with that change. So the possibility of having arthritis and no longer being able to count on my body to carry me through my healing, health affirming, clarity inducing walks was terrifying.

I decided to not acquiesce. I decided to try and walk through and to the other side of the pain. My normal walking habit was three miles in the morning with an occasional second walk later in the day. Because of the hip pain I had not walked much before leaving on a trip to Paris, a walker’s paradise, but did walk every day while I was there. These were not mapped out distance walks but rather walks to get someplace. In Paris all the “someplaces” were wonderful so my motivation was high.

Upon returning home I revisited Solvitur Ambulando. Another way of interpreting the phrase is  “walk it off.” I decided to start anew as a walker, to go back to the beginning. Our veterinarian suggested that my Yorkie, Buddy, needed more exercise. I decided to walk one mile every day with Buddy. The first time I did it, I cried most of the way. It hurt. The second day, it hurt a little less. After about a week, it only hurt for the first half mile. After two weeks, I still felt discomfort but it was easily manageable. After three weeks, I realized that I had walked the mile pain free! Eureka!

So what have I learned? On the physical level, I learned I can change my body. I can make decisions and changes that impact my body in an affirmative way. I am not separate from my body. On the thinking level, I learned I can change a belief. I can question whether something I have long held as a truth is accurate. And on an emotional level, I learned I can choose beliefs and actions that support my spiritual and physical growth and release those that don’t.

I literally and figuratively walked through the pain and out the other side, refreshed and renewed.

Solvitur Ambulando


  1. Judy, you have inspired me! Thank you! Arthritis has claimed both my hips, and I now have prostheses that serve me well, but the arthritis has now advanced into my sacroiliac joints. They don't make replacements for that, so physical therapy and exercise are my only hope. I'm starting the PT shortly, and in the meantime walking as much as I can (with an ambulatory assist gadget that is truly wonderful and that I am very fortunate to have). I've always loved long walks and miss it very much.If you were able to develop the muscles to support your hip, my hope of being able to do the same for my sacroiliac has been strengthened. I'll be able to walk again! Maybe I'll even be able to "do" Paris! Thanks so much.

  2. Hello Sam! You must have linked here via my April post? Yes, it truly helped to walk through it gently. I have a new wonderful thing I am doing for my hips. I am taking yin yoga classes. Yin is about finding your comfort level in an asana, using props as needed, and then staying in the pose for several minutes. The release is fabulous for joints. Maybe you can find a class there? I'm heading to Rome on Friday and plan to walk every day. You can do Paris!

  3. Judy,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post. I too am over 60 and on Tuesday will be heading to the Camino. This will not only be my first Camino, but my first time in Europe. I'm glad you were able to push through the pain and get to the other side, both physically and emotionally. You didn't mention anything about your marriage. Was it also healed?

    1. No the marriage was not healed. That would have required both parties working toward healing and that was not the case. I am now very centered and enjoying every single moment of the gift of life. I'm still walking! I will think of you on the Camino. I LOVE that you said your FIRST Camino so there is room for more in your future. I was in Paris in June and walked everywhere... what joy!

  4. I stumbled upon your page here when I was looking for the definition of and more information of the phrase, "Solvitur Ambulando." I shared the link to this page on the American Pilgrims on the Camino forum on Facebook. Everyone is enjoying it as it speaks of us of that 'certain' age. One lady at least is going to take up walking again and push past the pain. Good jo!

    1. Susan Larmour! Thanks for sharing this post with other walkers; it pleases me immensely that other Pilgrims can hold the phrase close to their hearts as they journey. I am going to pop over to the forum and get some inspiration for myself!