Did you know that walking for low back pain is the best self-treatment?
More people are unfortunately living sedentary lives and thus are becoming more prone to low back pain due to lack of physical activity. While issues like this help keep us busy at our clinic locations, we also love to see our patients without unnecessary back issues.
The old stereotypes of bed-rest and sitting in a recliner for low back pain are history. Clinical practice guidelines generally advise people with an acute episode of low back pain to stay active.
Why walking for low back pain?
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons notes that exercising for 10 to 30 minutes one to three times per day is recommended during recovery from a bout with low back pain.
Walking is much less intense than many other forms of exercise and thus less likely to aggravate your back pain. It is also a particularly good form of exercise because it is less likely to damage the joints than other activities and helps maintain bone density.
Walking for low back pain works because it stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, which are neurotransmitter chemicals that make you feel better physically and mentally.
Benefits of walking for low back pain
A steady walking practice can lessen pain, hasten healing, boost strength, increase flexibility and core strength, and, in the long run, prevent recurrences of low back pain.
Walking strengthens your bones and muscles, including those in your feet, legs, hips and torso along with the core muscles that hold you upright.
Stretching before walking will improve your back’s flexibility, range of motion and posture, which can help prevent future back pain or reduce its severity.
Incorporating walking into your routine also helps to improve your spine’s strength; walking benefits your circulation, helping pump nutrients to tissue and drain toxins, which nourishes your spine.
How to start a walking regimen
Purchase athletic walking shoes that fit your feet correctly and feel comfortable. If you’re in physical discomfort with your footwear, you’re not going to want to go very far. Don’t abandon your new routine before it even starts with ill-fitting shoes.
Make sure you stretch before exercising. Use some gentle stretching techniques to stretch your neck, arms, hips, legs, hamstrings, and ankles.
Start out slow and easy, take breaks if necessary. Be prepared for some discomfort — at first. Walking will help build your endurance and core strength over time. Be patient and persistent.
When you walk, keep up a rapid pace but do not exercise to the point of breathlessness. You should be able to carry on a conversation without gasping for air. Begin with a slow five-minute walk and continue until you’re walking for at least 30 minutes, or 2 miles, three or four times a week.
Make sure to maintain correct posture to prevent further injury to your back — use your core muscles. Try to “suck in” your tummy so you’re more upright. Swing your arms and keep your hands relaxed.
Once you’re into a routine, you can incorporate hand and ankle weights into your walks to get more strength and cardio endurance.
Walk off the low back pain
While it can be difficult to motivate yourself to keep moving despite your back pain, the results should be less pain and discomfort along with faster recovery.
One of the best advantages to establishing a walking routine for low back pain is that it doesn’t require a doctor, a physical therapist, or any fancy equipment to do.
You’ll also garner other wonderful health benefits from walking such as weight loss, decreased depression symptoms, and better sleep.