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We often get asked, “Is walking good for lower back pain?”
People want to know if walking will not only reduce pain, but speed up recovery time from the injury or inflammation that is causing their pain.
Here’s the good news: walking is actually one of the BEST things you can do to alleviate back pain. The simple, low-impact exercise can have amazing positive repercussions for your back, and it’s one of the things most doctors recommend for those dealing with back pain.
Let’s take a deep dive into the topic and answer the question, “Is walking good for lower back pain?”
Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain? Absolutely!
Back pain is, as you no doubt guessed, the subject of a great deal of research. Scientists are always looking for ways to better alleviate pain, combat injuries, and improve spinal health.
One study conducted in 2017 looked specifically at how walking could benefit your back health and reduce back pain. The meta-analysis looked at five different published research papers and analyzed the data to get a clear picture on how well walking worked to counteract back pain. Walking was compared to other forms of exercise, and the studies looked at the short-, mid-, and long-term benefits of walking.
As the study concluded, “Pain, disability, quality of life and fear-avoidance similarly improve by walking or exercise in chronic low back pain. Walking may be a less-expensive alternative to physical exercise in chronic low back pain.”
Why is walking so effective for combatting lower back pain?
It builds muscle. You may not think of walking as a muscle-building workout—especially not when compared to exercise like weightlifting—but you’d be surprised by how well it works! Give it a try for yourself: go for a two- or three-hour walk, and see how tired your muscles are once you’re done. Walking targets your leg muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. You’ll find that daily walking will specifically strengthen the muscles that support your spine as you move. With stronger muscles, your risk of injury drastically decreases.
It increases circulation. The more your blood flows, the faster your body is able to repair any internal damage—including whatever damage is causing your back pain. The increased circulation caused by walking will help to accelerate the healing of your lower back, as well as decrease the inflammation resulting from your injury. Walking will literally speed up healing time and help you recover faster!
It’s low-impact. Unlike many other forms of exercise—such as running, cycling, or lifting weights—walking is an incredibly low-impact workout that you can keep up for hours without straining your muscles or worsening a lower back injury. The low-impact nature of walking means that there is no microscopic damage to your spine that slows down your healing or compounds existing damage. It’s a highly functional, practical activity you can do anytime, anywhere, for as long as feels comfortable.
It stretches your muscles and joints. Because you’re moving naturally, your joints and muscles flex and stretch to accommodate your typical movement, and this helps to restore your limbs and trunk to proper alignment. You can actually walk the pain off because the movement of walking helps to re-align your entire spinal column. Walking will even increase the flexibility of your lower back joints and muscles, as well as the glute, hamstring, hip, and leg muscles that enable you to walk.
It encourages weight loss. Excess body weight can increase your risk of injury, because there is more weight than your spine is strong enough to handle. Losing weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of future back injuries. Walking may not be high-intensity, but a 2-hour walk is still excellent for weight loss!
As you can see, walking is one of the best things you can do to improve your spinal health and accelerate recovery from a back injury.
Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain? How to Walk Right
If you’re going to walk with an existing back injury or lower back pain, here’s what you should do:
Take it slow – Don’t risk compounding the injury by pushing too hard. Walk a little bit, rest, then continue.
Start out small -- Just 5-10 minutes per day is enough to get started. Your body needs time to adapt to longer walks.
Stay flat – Use a treadmill or go for a walk on a flat parkway or street. Wait until your back pain is fully gone to tackle hills.
Focus on your posture – Pay attention to the way you stand and move. Keep your head up, shoulders relaxed, and back straight as you walk.
Stretch before and after – This will help to loosen up cold muscles and cool down tired muscles, thereby reducing your risk of injury.
Walk on grass or sand – Concrete is hard enough that it will increase the wear and tear on your joints, even if you wear well-cushioned shoes. Try walking on softer grass or sand, which absorb shock and reduce muscle wear.
Time to Get Your Life Back on Track
If you’re sick and tired of dealing with back pain, you need our Back on Track System! It will arm you with the knowledge you need to not only combat existing back pain, but take steps to protect yourself and prevent back pain for the rest of your life.
In Back on Track, you’ll learn about the dangerous and often-ignored syndrome behind so many of the aches and pains you deal with on a regular basis. We’ll walk you through the basics of back pain, causes and conditions, and show you how some of our daily habits are primarily at fault for our discomfort. But don’t worry: you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to strengthen your back to drastically reduce back pain more and more every day. You won’t ever have to question “Is walking good for lower back pain?” because you’ll know exactly what you need to do for a pain-free back!
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