Back pain is the most common reason people miss work.
It's also the second leading cause of doctor visits.
In the U.S. alone, back pain costs $100-$200 billion every single year.
On a more personal level, having back pain can prevent you from functioning in typical everyday life.
It can keep you from cooking dinner, playing with your kids, or enjoying your hobbies.
A fear or unwillingness to take prescription painkillers or have surgery, and the cost of treatments are often factors that keep people from finding relief from their back pain.
But what if I told you relief was right outside of your door?
What if all you had to do was slip on a pair of comfortable shoes, and the treatment was free?
Could a simple walk around your neighborhood be all you need to find relief from your back pain?
Walking might not cure the most severe cases of chronic back pain, but for many people, walking is the cheapest, easiest, and most effective way to help prevent lower back pain.
Table of Contents
- Walking Strengthens The Muscles That Support Your Spine
- Walking Increases Flexibility In Your Lower Back
- Additional Health Benefits Of Walking
- Prevent Lower Back Pain While Walking
- Recognize Soreness But Don't Ignore Pain
- Stay Accountable
- Go For A Walk
Walking Strengthens The Muscles That Support Your Spine
Your trunk, core, and lower back muscles play a vital role in maintaining the stability and movement of your lower back.
These muscles can become deconditioned and weak from a sedentary lifestyle, causing malalignment of the spine.
Over some time, there may be an increase in muscular weakness, fatigue, injury, and pain.
The overall mass of your spinal muscles may also reduce.
When you walk, it increases your blood flow.
A sedentary lifestyle can cause the small blood vessels of your spine to become constricted, reducing blood flow to the spinal muscles.
Walking will help open up the blood vessels, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to these muscles.
Walking also flushes out toxins. Muscles produce physiologic toxins when they contract and expand.
Over time, these toxins can accumulate within the lower back muscle tissues and cause stiffness.
Walking helps flush out these toxins and improve flexibility.
Those factors combine to help build strength in the muscles of your lower back, adding to the strength and integrity of your lower back.
Walking Increases Flexibility In Your Lower Back
Lack of physical activity causes the muscles and joints in your lower back and hips to become stiff.
Stiffness creates increased pressure on the lumbar spine, altering its normal curvature.
When you walk, you increase your flexibility by stretching the muscles and ligaments in the back, legs, and buttocks.
Specific muscles, such as your hamstrings, erector muscles of the spine, and hip flexor muscles are activated and stretched when you walk.
The flexibility of your spinal ligaments and tendons is also increased, improving the overall range of motion in your lower back.
Additional Health Benefits of Walking
In case the improved function in your lower back wasn't enough to entice you to start walking, there are more health benefits.
Committing to a regular walk can:
- Improve the levels of total cholesterol
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia
- Reduce and/or maintain an optimal weight
- Keep blood pressure under control
- Walking also helps increase the production of endorphins (natural pain-inhibiting hormone), decreasing the overall perception of pain
Prevent Lower Back Pain While Walking
Your walking speed and distance will depend on your level of tolerance. If you have chronic back pain, follow these steps:
- Start with short walks and work your way up.
- If regular walking is painful, try walking in a shallow pool.
- Always use correct posture when walking by keeping your spine naturally curved. Your shoulders must be relaxed with your head balanced on top of your spine.
Recognize Soreness But Don't Ignore Pain
There's a good chance you are going to be sore after your first session.
You are exercising muscles and flexing vertebrae that may be stiff from overuse.
And, you are likely waking up areas in your body that haven't been active in a long time, so some soreness is normal and to be expected.
Pain, however, is different.
Sharp, stabbing pain, or pain that radiates is a warning sign that you need to slow down.
Don't ignore what your body is trying to tell you, but don't be put off by the soreness that is to be expected after a good workout.
Sticking with any exercise program, especially when it might cause some initial soreness, can be difficult.
Invite your kids or friends to join you on your walks as a way to keep yourself accountable, and to spend time with them you otherwise wouldn't have.
Making your walks a social activity can make it feel like less of a chore, which will help you get into a routine and stick to it.
A program of regular exercise is difficult to start as well as stick with, but it's important to understand that you aren't alone when it comes to improving your health.
There is more evidence growing that finds that regular walking groups not only being good for your body but for your mind as well.
Creating a walking group of friends and family is a great way to improve your lower back pain while building and strengthening supportive, positive relationships.
Go For A Walk
The key to a walking program or any exercise program is to start right away.
Regular walking can have immediate as well as long-term effects in improving the health of your lower back issues, restoring function, and preventing pain.
If you feel like your back pain is too severe to be improved by regular walks, you should visit a chiropractor.
A chiropractor will review your medical records as well as complete a physical exam in order to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
That plan will often include spinal manipulations and adjustments, as well as a regular exercise program, like walking.
To speak to a chiropractor today, click the button below.