You may be surprised to learn that walking is a surprisingly beneficial way to relieve lower back pain. While many people look to specific exercise routines or aerobics classes for physical activity, simply incorporating a walk into your daily routine can do wonders for your overall health.
When you are dealing with lower back pain, you may be tempted to skip workouts or other activities in favor of resting or spending time on the couch. However, walking can be great for your lower back and is an activity that requires little commitment or planning. Grab a pair of walking shoes and find out how walking can help your lower back pain.
10 Benefits of Walking for Back Pain
Here are 10 examples of the benefits of walking for back pain.
From your heart to your arms and legs, walking offers your muscles a strengthening workout. When you walk for at least 30 minutes a day, you engage your muscles and promote strength and stability. Walking engages your core and lower back muscles, and strengthening weak muscles can help alleviate low back pain from a more sedentary lifestyle. Muscle weakness can also lead to fatigue and a greater risk of injury. Walking is a low-impact activity that can help strengthen muscles throughout the body.
Increases Blood Flow
When you are more active, your blood vessels support healthy blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. You don’t have to join a gym membership to reap these health benefits. Walking can help increase blood flow by getting your heart pumping and increasing oxygen and nutrients to muscles. No matter what is causing your lower back pain, a heart-healthy activity like walking once a day can increase blood flow, and bring healing and restorative nutrients to your back.
Flushes Out Toxins
As your muscles expand and contract, they produce physiologic toxins. Over time, these toxins can build up inside the body and contribute to pain and stiffness. Walking can help flush out these toxins naturally, which improves your overall health and flexibility. When you go for a walk, your heart rate, breathing, and sweat production all increase, which causes the body to naturally flush toxins.
Engaging in regular activity like a daily walk can also increase flexibility in your lower back and elsewhere in the body. A sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity can lead to weakened muscles and joints, which can cause them to feel stiff. Stiffness and restricted mobility can contribute to lower back pain. When you go for a walk, your muscles and ligaments get a chance to stretch out, improving the overall range of motion from your lower back to your feet.
When you go for a walk, it helps to burn calories. This can help you maintain a healthy weight or reduce excess weight that may be putting a strain on your lower back. Burning calories has several additional health benefits, including maintaining a healthy body temperature, circulating your blood, digesting your food, and maintaining brain health. Increasing your walking speed and the amount of distance you cover can also increase the number of calories you burn while walking.
Manages Blood Pressure
Even a brisk, ten-minute walk a day can help you manage or lower your blood pressure. When you exercise, your heart pumps harder and reduces stiffness in the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily. If you have high blood pressure, then walking every day can be a bonus for creating a healthier and more active lifestyle. Chronic lower back pain can put you at greater risk for developing high blood pressure and other issues with your cardiovascular health.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol, then you may be more likely to experience fatigue and shortness of breath. This can make exercising or aerobics seem daunting. Going for a walk around your neighborhood will still provide you with health benefits of moving your body and increasing your heart rate. Walking will help raise your good cholesterol (HDL) with a 30-minute walk each day.
Decreases Anxiety & Depression
Walking can also improve your mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mental health concerns like anxiety or depression can keep you from participating in activities you enjoy. Slowly reintroducing an activity like walking into your routine can boost your self-esteem while also reducing symptoms of social withdrawal. Chronic low back pain can also impact your mood, so walking can help support both your physical and mental health.
Reduces Risk of Injury
The more active you are, the greater you can improve your strength, stability, flexibility, and overall health. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, it can lead to a weakening of muscles that causes chronic pain over time. Reduce your risk of injury by walking, and chronic low back pain can start to ease. Walking helps to restore healthy function in your body so that pain and stiffness go away and you increase your range of motion.
Increases Production of Endorphins
When you exercise, your body produces and releases hormones like endorphins that act as a natural pain reliever. The more endorphins in your body cause a decrease in your perception of pain and can also boost your mood. Endorphins provide both physical and mental health benefits by helping to relieve stress and promote relaxation.
Tips for Lower Back Pain and Walking
Whether you are recovering from a recent personal injury or looking to introduce more physical activity into your life, there are certain tips you can take to help with lower back pain. Learning about your walking pace and setting goals for the duration of your walk can help improve your tolerance level over time. Here are three tips for how lower back pain can improve with a walk every day.
Gradually Introduce Walking Program
It’s okay to start small! Get in the habit of taking a walk every day by setting out for 5 or 10 minutes at first. Once you establish a habit of getting on your feet and going for a walk, it gets easier to work your way up to a longer duration. You may also try a treadmill or elliptical machine on days when the weather is bad or if you have a convenient gym nearby. Gradually introduce a walking program into your daily routine so that the habit is an enjoyable one.
Consider Aquatic Therapy
If walking and other physical activities cause you pain, then you may try aquatic therapy to help you get started. Walking in a shallow pool can help because the buoyancy of the water takes some of the weight and pressure off while you move. This will allow you still get a great workout while minimizing pain. A physical therapist may recommend aquatic therapy to retrain your muscles on healthy walking habits before you transfer the skills to dry land.
Focus on Proper Posture
You might wonder how poor posture results in back pain. Back pain can result from long hours of sitting with your shoulders hunched, our slouching while walking. Luckily, you can relieve back pain by improving your posture. Focus on proper posture while you walk to keep your lower back from receiving too much pressure and strain. Your spine should stay naturally curved, your shoulders relaxed, and your head aligned with your spine. Many people have the habit of leaning with their head forward and tilted downward, which pulls the spine out of alignment. When your spine is properly in place, lumbar stabilization and walking exercises can help ease chronic low back pain.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
In addition to incorporating walking into your daily routines, talk with a back pain specialist about how to treat your lower back pain. Sprains, strains, and other injuries to the lower back can result in pain that may feel dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing. Visit an orthopedic doctor near you to get started on lower back pain treatment that addresses your specific symptoms and the root cause of your pain. Diagnostic imaging tools like a CT scan or MRI will provide your doctor with detailed images of the area and help pinpoint what is causing your pain. Once you have a diagnosis, you can get started on a personalized treatment plan for lower back pain.
Visit an AICA Orthopedics location near you if you are dealing with lower back pain. You want to get started on an effective treatment plan for lower back pain as soon as possible to avoid developing chronic pain or other issues. Our team of doctors includes orthopedics, chiropractors, physical therapists, and neurologists who all work together to provide you with comprehensive treatment and care. We also offer in-house diagnostic imaging so that you can get everything you need in one convenient location. Find an AICA Orthopedics location near you and schedule an appointment with one of our back pain specialists to talk about how to remove lower back pain from your daily life.