Can Walking Help Back Pain

Elaine Sutton
• Friday, 22 January, 2021
• 7 min read

Moving your body allows blood to circulate, which transports vital nutrients to your tissues and accelerates healing. Earlier this year, researchers from the Department of Biomedical and Servomotor Science, University of Bologna, concluded that walking regularly decreases pain and increases quality of life.

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It is not only free and almost anyone can do it, but it also offers some incredible health benefits,” says Jessica Smith, fitness professional and creator of the Walk On home workout program. It can also improve your mood, circulation, immune system, sleep quality, glucose levels, and balance.

Most people need to walk for regular activities, such as going through the grocery store,” explains Audrey Lynn Miller, PT, Ph.D., and chair of the department of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University. As with other types of exercises, a proper progression that allows your body time to adapt in small increments is important for sustainable walking to decrease lower back pain.

To progress, Miller suggests walking twice a day if your schedule allows and slowly add a minute (or a block) to the time. Miller says marching in place while watching TV or listening to music is a great option if you don’t live in a walking -friendly area or get difficult weather.

To receive optimal health benefits, Miller says the walk should be brisk enough that you can answer a question but not talk the entire time. Paying attention to how you feel is critical to determining what’s best to promote healing, and using pain as a guide is sensible.

Walking is relatively easy to do and one of the most overlooked ways that you can help relieve and prevent future flareups of lower back pain. Two specific and direct benefits of adding a regular walking routine to your lower back treatment program are highlighted below.

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Over a period of time, there may be an increase in muscular weakness, fatigue, injury, and pain. Walking helps open up the blood vessels, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to these muscles.

Over time, these toxins can accumulate within the lower back muscle tissues and cause stiffness. Lack of physical activity can cause the muscles and joints in your lower back and hips to become stiff.

This stiffness creates increased pressure on the lumbar spine (lower back), altering its normal curvature. Walking increases your flexibility by stretching the muscles and ligaments in the back, legs, and buttocks.

Regular walking can have immediate as well as long-term effects in improving the health of your lower back tissues, restoring function, and preventing pain. People with ongoing or recurrent episodes of lower back pain should consider the benefits of walking as a low-impact form of exercise.

The body's buoyancy reduces compression on the lower back, allowing for more pain free movement. It has long been known that there are many inherent health benefits from a regular routine of exercise walking.

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Walking increases the stability of the spine and conditions the muscles that keep the body in the upright position. Walking for exercise facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.

Exercise walking along with regular stretching allows greater range of motion; helps prevent awkward movements, and susceptibility of future injury. “A phrase I like to tell my patients and clients is that ‘motion is lotion,’” says Sam Courtney, certified strength and conditioning specialist and physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City.

Other research analyzing 23 previously published papers found walking can also effectively reduce low back pain by 35% for up to one year. What’s more, people who combined walking with education (learning about proper posture and strength-training techniques) reduced their risk of back pain by 45% in the same time frame, notes study author Mark Hancock, PhD, associate professor of physiotherapy at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

“Based on modern understanding of low back pain, advice commonly involves reassurance that a small amount of pain is relatively normal and should not be considered a sign of damage,” explains Hancock. When you exercise for prolonged periods, your body releases hormones called endorphins that may decrease your perception of pain and improve your mood.

“Reduced activity and deconditioning after an episode of low back pain are likely contributors to recurrences and could be addressed by undertaking an exercise program.” Yet when people get injured they are often steered towards physical therapy or exercise class to find help.

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A tight, or misaligned, performs muscle (which along with the sons and gluteus maximus (butt) muscles are the only muscles connecting the legs to the spine) pulls the legs into chronic external rotation and can press on the sciatic nerve creating the condition known as performs syndrome, a deep pain in the butt. Poor muscle tone throughout the body creates an environment ripe for pain.

Balanced muscle tone supports the alignment of the bones and every step is designed to be both a spinal twist and a core exercise. Aligning your bones for walking and standing creates the best possible environment for the sciatic nerve to flow.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes severe heel pain, especially upon walking up in the morning. All too often the doctor, chiropractor, personal trainer etc, don't help you enough because you are not working with them to change your intrinsic patterns.

And down the road, when the inevitable injury happens, especially if you are living the active lifestyle that you desire, you will heal faster and have faith that recovery is near. Whether back pain comes as a surprise or begins to occur on a regular basis, it can feel as though your life is being put on hold.

Please consult with your doctor first to set up a treatment plan and before you begin any exercises. Or maybe your body mechanics are not very good and the manner in which you did something irritated your low back.

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Other reasons that back pain increase include illness or other sources of stress. Let's start with talking about avoiding an increased amount of back pain.

The activity-related pain can be avoided by maintaining a sustainable pace, using proper body mechanics, and training for the activity. Slowing down, stopping and resting are great ways to pace yourself and stay within your physical limitations.

Bending your knees, moving your feet, and avoiding reaching are basic mechanics that can also help you do more without experiencing a flare-up. But most importantly, training for your activity is the best way to avoid activity-related flare-ups.

If your flare-ups are caused by stress or illness, that is difficult to avoid. But you can help by changing the way you react to these triggers of back pain flare-ups.

During times of stress, doing more beneficial activities like walking, meditating and stretching can all help to reduce the intensity levels of back pain. The single best way to abort a low back pain flare-up is to unload or decompress the spine.

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The sudden decompression and unloading of the spine can rapidly help you escape a flare-up cycle and also help you avoid surgery. But if you are already caught up in a cycle of increased pain, then you just want to survive.

Medications used in times of dire need can help a great deal. Flare-ups are usually just temporary irritations to sensitive parts in you low back.

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