Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain?
Four out of five people have experienced at least some form of lower back pain, and it is one of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor. You’re not alone in asking if walking is good for your lower back pain or if it’s better to rest. Here’s what you need to know about lower back pain and what can work to help relieve your back pain.
Is It OK to Walk with Lower Back Pain?
The hardest part about treating back pain is identifying the cause. Since there is such a wide variety of causes for back pain, in addition to each person’s health background and pain tolerance, there is no silver bullet to solve back pain.
This wide variety of causes has a wide variety of solutions. It is perfectly okay to walk with lower back pain for some people. Walking can help back pain because it stretches sore or tight muscles, which can help alleviate your current back pain. Walking can even strengthen your muscles to protect against future injuries.
Suppose your back pain changes location, increases in intensity, or shifts in how you would describe it (for example, shifting from burning to stabbing or from throbbing to electric). In that case, you should immediately reduce how much you are walking and speak with your doctor. Always follow the advice and instructions of your physician. They understand your personal health history and can create a personalized treatment plan that is best for your pain and activity levels.
How Much Should You Walk with Lower Back Pain?
Movement is essential for keeping your back flexible and strong to fight against chronic back pain. While walking does help with back pain by improving and maintaining your back’s health, there is no single set distance you should walk if you have chronic lower back pain.
As you introduce walking into your daily routine, it’s important to take your time and not overexert yourself. One of the most common causes of back pain is sore or sprained muscles. By pushing yourself too hard, you can cause further damage to your muscles, leading to even more pain.
If walking was part of your exercise routine before your back pain, once you experience back pain, you will have to go slower and shorter than you are accustomed to. This will give your back time to heal while still staying mobile.
Is It Better to Walk or Rest with Lower Back Pain?
Rest can help heal sore muscles, but unless you're under explicit instructions from your doctor, staying in bed all day could hurt your back more than it helps. Getting out of bed, gently stretching, and walking around your home can help you feel better.
When choosing to rest your back, make sure you sit or sleep in a healthy position.
Can Walking Make Back Pain Worse?
Depending on the cause of your injury and the intensity and duration of your walks, there is a chance that walking could make your back pain worse. If your back pain worsens while walking, immediately reduce how much you walk, so you don’t compound your injury.
What Should You Not Do with Lower Back Pain?
The worst thing you can do to your back is to push through the pain and assume it will go away on its own. If you choose to do the same things that caused your back pain, there’s a good chance you’ll cause further injury. If you take pain medication to reduce your lower back pain, remember that it only reduces the pain you are feeling and does nothing to heal your back, so don’t rely on it for long periods.
What Exercises Are Best for Lower Back Pain?
Vigorous exercise with a hurt lower back is a recipe for hurting your back even more. Here are some of the best stretches and gentle exercises you can do to help reduce your existing lower back pain and prevent future injuries.
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a yoga pose that will gently stretch your lower back as well as your thigh muscles, glutes, and spinal extensors. Gently stretching these muscle groups can help reduce and address lower back pain due to tension or sore muscles.
2. Knee-to-chest Stretches
A knee-to-chest stretch targets the lower back, stretching the lower muscle groups and helping elongate and relieve lower back tension and pain. Performing this stretch at least twice a day (when you wake up and before you sleep can be the easiest times to remember to do this) for only a few minutes is enough to fight against your lower back pain.
If you are a swimmer, freestyle and backstroke are the best strokes to help with back pain because they elongate your spine and, when done correctly, don’t require your back to do any large twists or turns. Swimming is a no-impact exercise that is gentle on your entire body while still allowing you to move and safely raise your heart rate. If you aren’t a swimmer, even walking in chest-deep water or doing water aerobics can be beneficial because the buoyancy of the water can help fight against spinal compression.
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