Walking Can Ease Lower Back Pain

May 23, 2022
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Fitness Mental Health

Aging offers many challenges, but one of the greatest threats to wellbeing that increases with age is susceptibility to back pain. In any given month, this condition affects about 23% of adults. Although most cases of back pain resolve on their own, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable. 

With so many people sharing this experience, one might think there would be an ideal medication for it by now. But pharmacological solutions are lacking, in part, because there are so many different causes. For instance, lower back pain is very common in pregnancy or after gaining weight. It can also occur after an acute injury or fall, or be related to sitting postures during computer work or driving. Some types of work that require a lot of awkward trunk postures also predispose those employees to more back pain. For example, the prevalence of lower back pain in hospital nurses is over 70% according to some surveys! 

walking

Effective treatments are crucial because lower back pain tends to reoccur in those who are sedentary. If highly effective medications are lacking, what can we do to manage this condition?

Walk it off

One of the tried and tested movements that can ease back pain is walking. This is an accessible movement practice that can be done almost anywhere.

Even though walking has a low risk of injury, it is a good idea to see your doctor to evaluate your back pain. Numbness or tingling is usually a sign of nerve irritation that may require different treatments beyond targeted exercise, so walking may not be an appropriate movement for all individuals. Pain may also result from trauma that could require surgery, so it’s best to involve a doctor for personalized recommendations. 

Those with mild to moderate lower back pain often benefit from walking interventions. Randomized controlled trials show that functional abilities improve after increasing the number of weekly steps over several weeks. And most importantly, an increase in walking reduces their perception of pain.

Most studies measure outcomes after many weeks or months, but some assess the outcomes after a single bout of walking. For example, one study had participants with lower back pain walk at a self-selected speed for 10 minutes, and pain was significantly reduced by this simple approach

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Bonus benefits

Studies show that when we switch from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one, we reap huge benefits. For example, walking improves fitness and decreases body weight due to a reduction in body fat

One of the related benefits confirmed by research is lower blood pressure. This is important because high blood pressure raises risk of stroke and heart disease. It’s also very common, with high blood pressure present inone in every two persons 20 years or older in the US.” About 60% of those individuals do not have their high blood pressure under control, so walking may be a helpful approach to better manage this health issue.

Adding more steps to your day is a great way to improve how your body functions, but what about your brain? As part of your body, your brain is highly sensitive to what you do. Light exercise can help us adopt a more positive attitude. When individuals take up walking, they often to notice a boost to wellbeing. Walking can be especially helpful for preventing or reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Treo can help

Treo’s whole-person platform offers members the option of tracking the habits that are most important to them. This can be personalized to any quantity of time, even 5 or 10 minutes. We also offer video content directly addressing the top habits for specific health goals. Interested in learning more? Let’s get in touch! 

As Treo’s Global Wellness Researcher, Karlie uses recent research findings to support healthier daily habits. Karlie earned her doctorate in Neuroscience and Behavior and bachelors in Health and Exercise Science.