5 Surprising Ways that Walking Each Day Can Relieve Back Pain
For those that suffer from back pain, everyday tasks like laying down, sitting, standing, and even unloading the dishwasher can be excruciating. If you are constantly in and out of the chiropractor’s office or have taken a few days off from work due to an aching back, know that you’re not alone!
In fact, back pain is often cited as the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 51 percent of those surveyed reported back pain so severe that even basic actions are limited as a result.
Luckily, for those that suffer from back pain, walking each day can do wonders in helping you self-manage your pain and start living a happier, healthier life! Here are some great ways that making a regular walking routine can help ease back pain:
1. It’s low-impact (good news for your back!)
When back pain is involved, high-intensity exercises like running or strength training with weight lifting are often not viable options. Because walking is much less intense, there is low risk of injuring your back even further, giving you nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.
2. It strengthens bones and muscles
From the bones in your feet to the interlaced muscles across your back, walking is a great way to add a little bit of strength to your feet, legs, hips, torso, and of course, your back.
Gaining strength in your bones and muscles will help to stabilize your spine and promote better posture—and when it comes to managing back pain, posture is crucial.
3. It releases endorphins
Any form of exercise comes with the added benefit of endorphin release, hormones that relieve pain and take away stress.
4. It improves flexibility
One of the warning signs for lower and upper back pain is a stiff spine—and for those who are sitting at a desk all day in the same position, your spine can easily lose its natural flexibility.
When paired with regular stretching, walking can increase your range of movement, supporting flexibility, preventing awkward movements that turn into pain, and protecting your spine against future injury.
5. It promotes good circulation
Not only is healthy circulation great for your heart, but it’s also helpful for your back! Improving blood flow to your spine, torso, legs, and all associated muscles means that these trouble spots get the nutrients that they need to repair, grow, and stay healthy.
Before You Walk—Don’t Forget Your Form!
If you suffer from lower back pain, keeping your posture and form in mind will not only magnify the benefits of walking, but it will also prevent you from potentially injuring yourself. Livestrong suggests that the proper “technique” means that you should:
- Keep a rapid pace—but not so fast that you can’t breathe calmly or hold a conversation (bring a friend to walk with you!)
- Start with a slow, 5-minute walk and build your way up to at least 30 minutes
- Use your abdominal muscles to support your back and prevent injury
- Keep your stomach tucked in slightly, towards your spine, and focus on staying upright to avoid leaning forward
- Take a few minutes for some gentle stretching before and after
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes
- Keep your hands relaxed and let your arms swing naturally
To ensure that your back is protected, you should also start by walking on a flat surface—like a local park or sidewalk—and gradually build your way up to more uneven ground, like a nature walk or a hike.
Of course, no matter what, don’t forget to listen to your body. Some lower back pain will be too intense even for walking, so start incorporating walking into your daily routine at a slow pace and pay attention to what your body is telling you.
After You Walk–Share Your Story!
How has walking helped your own struggles with back pain? Have you experienced a unique benefit of walking that you don’t see listed here? Don’t be shy—find me on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! I would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!
As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.