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Study finds that regular walks reduce back pain

Study finds that regular walks reduce back pain
Study finds that regular walks reduce back pain


  • Recent studies focusing on people experiencing lower back pain have shown that walking can be highly beneficial.
  • Regular walking significantly reduced the risk of future attacks and medical visits.
  • They also experienced improvements in their quality of life, sleep and mood.

Low back pain is extremely common and notoriously difficult to treat, but new research finds that one simple, cost-effective and highly accessible intervention could make a big difference: walking.

A new paper published in 2011 found that Lancet A June 19 study found that people who walk regularly with back pain are significantly less likely to experience activity-limiting pain. They also reported a better quality of life.

Participants who walked regularly were half as likely to miss work or require medical treatment compared to those in the control group.

Healthline contacted Dr. Tash PokoviHe is the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Australia.

“In my work as a physical therapist, I'm amazed at how prevalent back pain is,” she says. “It was reported that 620 million people worldwide experienced back pain in 2020.”

She explained that while most scientists focus on treatment, fewer focus on prevention, which is important because “7 in 10 people who recover from back pain will experience new back pain within the next 12 months.”

“While it is not considered a life-threatening disease, it can have a very serious impact on people's lifestyle, their ability to work and their overall quality of life,” Pokovi said.

For the study, the scientists recruited 701 people who had recently experienced back pain.

They were split into two groups: one served as a control group, and the other embarked on a personalized walking program that included six educational sessions with a physiotherapist over a six-month period. Scientists followed up on the participants for one to three years.

They found that patients in the walking group experienced activity-limiting pain less frequently than patients in the control group, and they also waited longer before recurrence, an average of 112 days compared with 208 days for patients in the walking group.

Pokovi said. Healthline She said she wasn't surprised that walking benefited these people because the intervention “helped people to move, reduced their fears, and gave them strategies and confidence to self-manage their condition, all of which we know are important.”

But she was surprised by “how much of an impact this intervention could have on people's lives beyond just improving back pain management.”

“Not only were we able to reduce the recurrence of back pain requiring treatment by more than 40 percent, but patients also reported improved sleep and mood, lifestyle modifications, and improved management of other chronic health conditions,” she explained.

“It's encouraging to see that this intervention had a positive impact on overall health,” Pokovi said.

I asked Pocoví how beneficial walking is for people who suffer from back pain.

In their study, walking plans were individualized based on factors such as age, physical ability, preferences, and available time.

“We gave participants a rough guide to gradually increase to 30 minutes, five times a week,” she said. “After three months, most participants were walking three to five days a week, averaging 130 minutes a week.”

“We want people to walk more, even if it's something they do alone, but if you're having trouble getting started please consider speaking to a health professional to help you.”

Healthline He said Neil Anand, MD“The study is a step toward a more accurate diagnosis,” said Dr. Schneider, an orthopedic spine surgeon and director of the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, California, who was not involved in the study.

“Walking is a great way to exercise your whole body, aerobic exercise This can be especially helpful for people with lower back pain, but if you have moderate to severe pain, be careful not to walk too far or for long periods of time. Also, make sure the surface you're walking on is level and doesn't have many uphill or downhill changes.”

To understand the high prevalence of low back pain, Healthline He said Tomas Pontinen, MDPontinen, who was not involved in the study, is double board-certified as an anesthesiologist, interventional pain management specialist and chronic pain specialist.

One reason for this, he explained, is our evolutionary history: “Humans evolved from animals with horizontal spines,” and as we evolved to walk on two legs, “the spine had to adapt.”

“If we spend our whole lives with our spine in a vertical position, as we do, it's very likely that this will eventually cause problems, as the spine has to support most of our body weight and the pressures of movement throughout our lifetime,” Pontinen said.

Other contributing factors include general wear and tear on the discs due to aging or injury, Pontinen said. Poor posture, Sedentary lifestyleobesity, etc.

Healthline Asked Dr. Joel S. BeckettA board-certified neurospine surgeon, he explains how individuals can reduce their risk of back pain.

Beckett, who was not involved in the recent study, practices at DISC Sports & Spine Center in Marina del Rey, Calif. He offers this advice:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • To keep your core strong, engage in regular physical activity, including strength and stretching exercises.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Use proper technique when lifting heavy objects.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

In line with recent research findings, he said, “standing and walking are the best activities for your back.”

Recent studies have shown that walking regularly can reduce the risk of recurrence of back pain, improve your quality of life, and reduce the need for visits to a medical professional.

photograph Normal wAlcohol improved sleep and mood, as well as management of other chronic health conditions.

But as Anand told us, while it's important to wait for the “go-ahead” from your doctor, “contrary to what some people think, being immobile or on 'bed rest' after the acute phase of a back pain attack may do more harm than good.”




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