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Back Ache – Walk It Off!

walking off a back acheSpring is the time to open up your windows, stow away that claustrophobic, indoor exercise routine and breathe in the freshness of the season. Now that sidewalks are dry and the chill is fading, keeping back aches at bay can be as easy as stepping outside and starting a walking routine.

Walking is easy (we’ve been doing it since we were toddlers, after all), convenient – it can be done almost everywhere and can be worked into the busiest of schedules – and can be as solitary or as social as you choose. Walking is an especially attractive fitness option for those who don’t want the cost of gym membership or expensive exercise machines. Walking with proper form will get your heart pumping, your hormones flowing, your muscles toned and is a highly recommended exercise for alleviating back pain.

How walking helps

A 2013 study by Tel Aviv University research scientists found that a 20 to 40 minute walk two or three times weekly was shown to be as effective as specific back strengthening treatments at alleviating lower back pain. Think of the muscles in your back as the framework that keeps your spine upright and vertically centered, preventing painful friction and nerve involvement. When you walk, you are strengthening these muscles, as well as the ligaments that help keep your spine stable, which prevents pain caused by abnormal positioning and movement of your discs. Additionally:

  • Walking strengthens leg, hip and abdominal muscles which all work to keep your body upright and your back straight.
  • As with other aerobic exercises, the simple act of walking is good for circulation, providing the elements of your spine with healthy nutrients.
  • Walking also helps with weight loss, reducing the risk of back strain caused by obesity.
  • Finally, a nice walk boosts the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and the explanation for those calming, pleasant feelings walking gives us.

Using proper form

Slouching, shuffling your feet and taking too-long or too-short strides are bad habits, overriding many advantages of a back-healthy walk. Use these techniques to get the full benefit of walking:

  • Look forward. Keep your head up and your shoulders relaxed, but avoid slouching and leaning forward.
  • Use a rolling motion with your feet; landing on the heel and pushing off with your toes.
  • Tighten up your abs by gently pulling in your stomach muscles as you walk. This will help keep your back straight.
  • Bend your arms, allowing them a comfortable swing.
  • Don’t try to take longer or shorter steps than feel natural and comfortable to you.


 Here are some additional benefits of walking:

  • Walking helps to keep your mind sharp.
  • It improves your sleep.
  • Walking helps in controlling bone loss.
  • Walking reduces your risk of many diseases, including heart conditions and diabetes.
  • Walking can improve your coordination.

Regular walking within your healthy tolerance level is a simple, convenient and cost-free way to counteract the effects of a too-sedentary lifestyle. It is perhaps the easiest and the most feel-good method for reducing or preventing back pain. Contact your doctors at Saratoga Spine at (518) 587-7746 to set you on the right path.


*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery