As the fall weather approaches and the leaves start to change colors, it’s exciting and invigorating to be able to walk outside. For those in good health, the autumn weather is a wonderful treat. For people with back pain, there are questions about whether walking helps or hurts their health, how far and how long should the walk, and other questions.
The best course of action is to review any exercise routine with your pain management doctor.
Some of the benefits of walking
According to Livestrong.com, walking does have many health benefits. Walking:
- Strengthens your muscles and bones including the areas that support your back such as the muscles and bones in your legs, torso, and hip.
- “Stretching and then walking will improve your back’s flexibility, range of motion and posture, which can help prevent future back pain or reduce its severity.“
- Walking stimulates “the release of endorphins, which helps to reduce back pain.”
- Walking also improves your body’s circulation – pumping nutrients into tissue and removing toxins
A walking routine helps the stability of your spine.
Walking versus other forms of exercise
Some exercises, such as running, tennis, having a catch, gardening, or playing golf can cause back pain. Walking puts minimum pressure on your back. Forms of exercise that may have less stress than walking include swimming, stationary bikes, and yoga.
People with back pain should start slowly to test whether walking is causing discomfort.
How to walk
Livestrong recommends that you should walk at a rapid pace – but you should be able to have a conversation while you walk. Start with just 5-10 minutes and then build up to 30 minutes. A 2-mile walk is a good target. Walkers should try to walk three to four times each weak.
“Maintain correct posture to prevent further injury to your back — use the abdominal muscles to support your trunk and spine by keeping your stomach tucked in slightly and standing completely upright. Don’t lean forward when you walk. Swing your arms and keep your hands relaxed.”
Other walking tips
- Walkers should stretch their hamstrings, arms, legs, hip, neck, and ankles before each walk.
- Wear walking shoes
- Move your arms when you walk – unless you need to hold onto something, like the handrails of a treadmill, to keep your balance
This blog does not constitute medical advice. Readers should consult with their doctors for exercise advice.
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