Walking and Back Health
Everyone knows that walking can be enormously beneficial to personal health. Walking is a wonderful aerobic exercise that almost anyone can do; it requires very little in the way of special equipment or skills and can be performed for any duration of time desired. Aside from the general advantages that walking can bring to your personal health level, many people with back pain can reap some specific benefits from walking that may improve their condition.
The vicious cycle
When people have back pain caused by conditions such as bulging discs, pinched nerves or bone spurs, they often cut down on physical activity. This is an understandable impulse, but often, inactivity can make the problem worse while also leading to further complications.
Because walking is low-impact (meaning that it is a form of exercise that causes a relatively low amount of stress to joints), people who have neck pain and back pain can often use walking to stay in shape without risking further damage to their spinal condition.
Apart from simply maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, walking also provides specific benefits for people with back pain. These benefits include:
- Core strength – Walking requires balance, which in turn requires a strong core. A strong core is important for supporting your vertebrae, leading to better back health.
- Bone density – Walking for exercise promotes healthy bones and can help to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis.
- Improved posture – One issue that absolutely contributes to back pain is poor posture. A regular walking program can improve posture, which can lead to reduced back pain.
- Increased circulation – The soft tissues in your spine require strong circulation to pump out toxins and get the nutrients they need. Walking increases your circulation, which helps support good spinal health.
Starting a walking program
As with any exercise routine, it’s best to start small and gradually build to a higher level of activity. Your physician may recommend beginning with five minutes of walking a day and eventually working up to a regular routine of 30 minutes of walking three to four times per week.
It is important to make sure that the shoes you walk in are comfortable and provide enough support, particularly to the arches of the feet. The wrong shoes can actually contribute to increased back pain; you may choose to have your gait analyzed at a store that specializes in sport shoes to ensure the pair you select is right for you.
Good walking form can also help maximize the benefits of your walking program while minimizing the risk of injury. Be sure to keep your head up, your shoulders straight and relaxed and your abdominal muscles engaged for support. A trainer can give you specific pointers for correcting your form.
As with any exercise routine, check with your physician before beginning, and keep him or her informed of your progress. Report any injuries immediately, and seek medical advice for proper rest and healing techniques.
Walking is terrific way to stay active and moving with minimal risk of injury. However, if conservative treatments like walking or physical therapy have not improved your neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information about our advanced outpatient procedures that can help you find relief from back pain.