Lower Back Pain? Try walking.

Katharine Green
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Research shows that seven out of ten of us suffer recurring neck and back related problems, and for some, it can last for many years. People with ongoing or reoccurring periods of lower back pain should consider the benefits of walking as a low-impact form of exercise. It is less likely to damage the joints than other activities and helps to maintain bone density. Walking can lessen pain, hasten healing, boost strength, increase flexibility, and, in the long run, prevent recurrences; when often other forms of aerobic exercise are too painful.

Admittedly this does not work for everyone, and for some back conditions, walking will aggravate the problem, or cause pain that makes it unbearable. These people will need to find alternative forms of exercise, such as exercising in water, which is low impact, and helps reduce compression on the lower back.

But for many the simple act of walking can help resolve and prevent lower back pain. Only a couple of weeks ago the NHS recommended exercise as the most effective method of preventing lower back pain.

With regards to back health there are 3 key benefits of walking for the spine;

• Strengthens muscles in the feet, legs, hips, and torso - walking increases the stability of the spine and conditions the muscles that keep the body in the upright position.

• Nourishes the spinal structures - walking for exercise facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.

• Improves flexibility and posture - exercise walking along with regular stretching allows greater range of motion; helps prevent awkward movements, and susceptibility of future injury.

We have written many times about the added benefits of Nordic walking over regular walking, both for exercise and for relieving various health problems. A Nordic Walking UK Instructor and physiotherapist Heather Watson made an in depth case study, of how Nordic walking was used to rehabilitate a 48 year woman who suffered from back and leg pain. It makes a most interesting read and shows how walking with poles; encourages arm swing, rotation, correct body alignment, and improved posture, that all help to relieve lower back pain.

When starting out it is important to start slowly, gradually building up the speed and distance. Remembering to warm up the back before you start and take time to stretch properly at the end. Learning the correct British Nordic Walking technique is essential, in order to prevent further back problems and to reap all the added benefits from using the poles. The great thing about walking for exercise is it can be done anywhere, and at any time, requiring very little equipment. Correct footwear is very important, and when Nordic walking we recommend you seek advice about the right length of poles for you.

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