Is walking good for back pain? Well, to answer this question, many studies have proven that walking lower back pain. Isn’t it surprising? That’s all well and good but wait, do not rejoice so fast. There is something you should know. Even if walking helps relieve back pain, if you walk with a lousy posture and wear the wrong pair of shoes, you may worsen your back pain. So before you start walking, there are certain things you need to know and some precautions you need to take.
Does Walking Help With Back Pain
Walking may seem to you like a simple action because you do it naturally in your daily routine, but this natural movement is, in fact, a little more complicated than you might think for your body. Did you know that more than 200 muscles, including your muscles in your spine and pelvic, get into action when you walk? Walking is excellent for you as well as for your wellness and your overall health. Here are several reasons why walking is beneficial for your spine if you do it the right way.
It helps with back pain.
As I mentioned above, chiropractic scientists reported that walking helps relieve back pain. Since walking is a low impact workout, it doesn’t put stress on your back as running does, and it makes you burn energy, too.
When you walk, your body releases endorphins that help decrease pain in your back. It also increases your spine’s flexibility, boosts circulation, and rehydrates your spinal disc, which allows them to be more effective.
It increases circulation.
According to scientists, Walking increases blood flow throughout your body and provides the nutrients your spine requires. When the soft tissues around your spine are well-nourished, toxins are drained away and help your whole body, including your spine, function better.
Walking also lowers blood pressure and helps build your stamina since the more you walk, the more you improve your endurance, and the more you get fitter.
It improves flexibility
Like everybody, as you age, your joints become stiffer and your muscles weaker. So it’s essential to keep your body flexible and healthy. Walking will improve your range of motion and will make your joints more flexible. If you walk correctly, it will also improve your posture and lessen the chances of injury. Walking is excellent, but before starting any exercise, you should always speak first to your chiropractor so that you can walk with complete peace.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain By Walking
Whether you walk, stand, sleep, or sit, having a poor posture often leads to back pain. Many people don’t pay attention to how they walk. Often they look at the ground, then automatically the shoulders get in a forward position, and the arms hang limply at the sides, which is really bad for the back.
As your head is one of the heaviest parts of your body, if it’s not straight, the rest of your body won’t be either. So you must adopt a good posture. Below are a few steps you need to follow to walk correctly.
1.stand tall with your chin parallel to the ground, your shoulders down.
2. Make sure to gaze forward and that your arms are at 90° to your body. When you walk, your arms should swing in time with the opposite leg to keep a balanced position.
3. When walking, you should strike the ground with your heel first and then roll through the ball of your foot to the toe.
4. Unlike running where both feet get off the ground, one foot must always be in contact with the ground when you walk.
5. If you carry a backpack, make sure both straps are well placed on your shoulders. Secure your hips with a strap to prevent the bag from moving from side to side. This help distributed the load evenly on the back.
It’s essential to have a good rhythm when walking, and if you walk with friends or family, your optimum pace may not be the same. You should find an elliptical stride length that’s comfortable for you. In any case, avoid reaching your leg far out in front of you as this could lead to injury. You can lengthen your stride but in the back rather than in the front to increase power. However, try to stick to your natural stride length, but do it the right way. Ensure your stride is longer behind your body, keeping your rear foot on the ground, then roll through the step to give a push off with your toe. If you feel more comfortable with smaller steps, that’s fine, too. Just follow the same principle.
Walking on hard surfaces like concrete or tarmac can be very harmful to your knees, hips, and back. Although hard surfaces help you walk at a good walking pace, it is likely to cause severe damages.
To avoid any stress on your back as you walk, try to do it on smooth terrains like treadmill, grass, or wet sand. The shocks are less felt on the back and joints, and it reduces the chances of injury.
Spine and back pain specialists say hiking can be very beneficial for your back because it helps improve muscular circulation, making your soft tissues in the spine more flexible. Hiking on uneven terrains not only strengthens your spine’s muscles but also improves your posture and flexibility when done correctly. When hiking, you need to use proper technique and form; otherwise, it can harm your back. For example, wearing a backpack that is not well-sized for your body can alter your balance and, thus, modify your posture, leading to injuries.
Whether you walk on flat or uneven terrain, you must stretch before and after walking, say, Dr. Freeman, a specialist in back pain.
There are two types of stretching, static and dynamic. Several minutes of dynamic stretches before walking will loosen your muscles and reduce stress on your joints. Static stretches need to be done after walking as it helps relax your muscles, preventing injuries. If you want to know more about it, you may consider reading “how to stretch before walking”
Use Trekking Poles or Nordic poles.
Although trekking and Nording poles are used for different purposes, both will do the same job supporting your body as you walk. These sticks take the pressure off your back and make you walk correctly, helping you use the right posture. This prevents back pain you may experience during or after your walking session. Both Trekking and Nordic poles give you more stability when walking on uneven terrains.
Choosing the right pair of shoes for walking is imperative. Worn-out shoes are a no-no as they lose their cushioning and won’t protect your feet from the impacts. Some trainers look great and are comfortable, but don’t provide enough support. Here are some features you should seek in walking shoes:
The first thing you need to look for are shoes that suit your arches. There are three types of gaits: neutral (normal pronation), overpronation (foot roll inward), and supination (foot roll outward). If you have neutral pronation, you should look for neutral trainers. If you overpronate, stability shoes or motion control shoes are what you need. These have medial support in the midfoot that correct your gait pattern. If you supinate, you can wear neutral trainers with lots of cushioning – stability and motion control shoes aren’t ideal for supinators.
Secondly, make sure the forefoot and heel of the shoes are well cushioned to absorb the shocks from walking. Walkers strike on their heel first and then roll through the ball to toe, so a heel-toe to drop (8 mm) or lower (4 mm)will give you enough protection in the heel and take the stress off your joints.
The lighter the shoes, the better for your back as there is no weight on your legs, making it easier to lift them. A thick midsole with a lightweight upper is the perfect combination to maximize support. Look for shoes with reinforced heel counter with overlays on the sides to wrap your foot and prevent it from moving from side to side.
And finally, check if the shoes are flexible at the forefoot so you can bend the ball of your foot without losing any support.
If you go hiking, you need supportive and well-cushioned trail walking shoes that provide excellent traction.
Tips to Prevent Lower Back Pain While Walking
Walking is fantastic, but if you force yourself too much, it could lead to injuries. You need to start with small walking sessions and gradually add more steps to improve your physical endurance. Begin with 5 to 10 minutes per day and slowly work your way up. Treadmills or elliptical machines are good options for back pain because the surface is smooth, putting less stress on your back than when walking on concrete. If all of these tips are still too hard on your back, you may consider trying pool walking exercises. When walking in water, no impact can harm your back. It reinforces your spine and your joints.
Walking has been proven to be one of the best exercises to lower back pain. Doctors from all over the world recommend this activity to people who suffer from joint and back pain. So try to walk every day and, most importantly, stick to it. If you can, try to combine yin yoga with walking, this will even be better.
Do you lower your back pain by walking? If so, it would be very helpful if you could share your experience in the comments below.