4 Key Benefits Of Walking For Back Pain (And Added Health Perks)
Walking is a light form of exercise that provides a host of benefits for health and general wellbeing. It’s also an inexpensive and easy activity that can be designed to fit any fitness level.
Studies have shown regular walks can have a number of surprising benefits including boosts to immune function and easing joint pain. Other benefits include improving heart and lung function, aiding in weight-loss, decrease in bone loss. It can also boost mood, alertness and energy levels.
But did you know that walking can be beneficial to your spine as well? Many walking programs have been tested by patients with chronic lower back pain and seen it can increase the patient’s activity level while also providing some relief from symptoms. The overall improvement results in increased function and quality of life.
So how does walking improve wellbeing? Find the reasons below.
Increases Circulation To The Spine
Our lower back muscles, joints and ligaments become conditioned and weak from a sedentary lifestyle, causing malalignment of the spine. Over time, this can lead to muscular weakness, fatigue, injury and pain. Walking is a way to strengthen the muscles that support your spine.
When you walk, you increase blood flow which opens up blood vessels and increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Walking can also help flush out physiologic toxins that cause stiffness and improve flexibility.
Helps Rehydrate Spinal Discs
Water is vital to our bodily functions, and back pain and spinal problems can be an unexpected result of dehyration. The spine is a column of discs, vertebrae and cartilage that’s primary purpose is to encase the spinal cord. The discs sit between each vertebrae to give the spine strength, mobility and shock absorption. Discs and vertebrae are cushioned by a portion of water which is naturally lost and regained regularly.
Rehydration in healthy bodies happens mainly during the night with the water you’ve consumed. With age, lack or movement and injury, the lack of hydration reduces shock absorption capacity, caused by the rubbing of discs, and can lead to spinal injury.
The addition of movement through walking, combined with a good night’s sleep and drinking plenty of water, helps to improve hydration in the discs and prevent degenerative changes to the spinal discs and joints.
Improves Postural Position
For those that spend a majority of their time sitting behind a desk, it’s easy to for their posture to take a turn for the worse. There’s a number of way to improve your posture at work, and walking is one of them.
When we walk, our pelvis is placed in a neutral position, which means better posture. A quick walk helps to break up repetitive postural patterns associated with sitting all day by getting our muscles and joints moving and redirection blood flow to your postural muscles.
The best part is you don’t have to walk far — 30 minutes a few times a week is enough to notice an improvement in your posture!
Relieves Spinal Stress And Back Pain
A lack of physical exercise can cause the muscles and joints in your lower back and hips to become stiff. This stiffness creates increased pressure on the lumbar spine (lower back), altering the curvature of the spine.
Walking increases flexibility by stretching the muscles and ligaments in the back, legs and buttocks. Specifically, your hip flexors, hamstrings and erector muscles. This improves the overall range of motion in your lower back.
As a low impact exercise, walking is also a great way to help reduce and/or maintain an optimal weight. Carrying extra body weight can cause stress on the spine and lead to back pain. By committing to a regular walking program, you can help weight management and reduce the stress extra weight causes the spine.
Tips To Prevent Lower back Pain When Walking
If you suffer from chronic back pain, it’s best to ease into a walking schedule. Your pace and duration will depend on your tolerance level and you will improve each time.
Here’s some tips to get started:
- Start with a short 5 to 10 minute walk everyday and gradually increase your time. It’s perfectly fine to use a treadmill or an elliptical machine based on your preference.
- If regular walking is painful, try walking in a shallow pool. With natural bouyancy, you may find enough relief to complete an exercise and build strength.
- Focus on correct posture while walking by keeping your spine naturally curved. Relax your shoulders and balance your head on top of your spine (not flexed forward).
The key to walking is to start right away. Walking is one of the simplest ways to build strength, improve flexibility, and maintain good health and you’ll notice positive effects immediately.
As you continue walking, you’ll begin strengthening muscles that support your spine and lower back. This will improve the health of your lower back issues, restoring function, and preventing pain.
Speak To A Back Pain Specialist
If you have conerns about starting a new walking program or would like advice, considering speaking to a back pain specialist such as Dynamic Chiropractic. As qualified chiropractors, we can assess your spinal health and provide structured chiropractic care to help you lead and maintain a healthier life.