Let’s talk about back pain…..
So, this week, I had a question asked by a client of mine, John, aged 52, asked a very common question around here,
“It is really ok to exercise when my lower back pain is acting up?”
Now, the thought of doing any movement at all when you’re in some form of pain might seem a little odd. You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it any more in case it turns into an injury. Imagine waking up one day to find that you can no longer walk down the road, go shopping, or even take the grandchildren over to the park to play on the swings because what you did, made it worse!
But, that’s rarely the case. See, nagging lower back pain doesn’t mean you’ve got to keep yourself locked up indoors – until it magically disappears.
You can in fact keep moving, and enjoying those leisurely strolls in the sunshine.
Let me tell you why…
If you suffer from recurring lower back pain, gentle walking accompanied by exercises designed specifically to improve your back strength and movement, will make a huge and significant difference.
Walking is a completely natural movement that strengthens your bones and muscles, including those in your feet, legs, hips and torso – helping to keep the back muscles that hold you up right nice and strong.
Stretching, combined with walking, will improve your back’s flexibility and posture, which in turn, can help prevent back pain creeping up on you when you least expect it. What’s more, it can also reduce its severity. Walking also stimulates the release of endorphins (those feel-good hormones), helping you to feel energized all day, too.
Walking with lower back pain is completely safe. If you’ve suffered with lower back pain, you may find that certain type of activities hurt your back – especially high impact exercises such as jogging and walking is far less intense than many other forms of exercise, and therefore less likely to trigger that dreaded pain.
So, here’s the important question. What to do if you do have back pain when you walk?
It might be the case that you experience some discomfort from walking. If you find you’re in pain, there are other low-impact exercises you can do to keep moving. Try a different low-impact activity such as gentle yoga, swimming, riding a stationary bike while your favorite T.V. show is on, or even walking on flat surfaces during healing to prevent straining your back. Believe it or not, there’s even a special way to walk that makes pain less likely.
When you walk, keep up a constant pace, but don’t walk to the point of breathlessness – you don’t want walking to become hard and strenuous, you should be able to carry on a conversation without the need to gasp for air.
Begin with a slow five-minute walk, and then gradually build it up until you’re walking for at least 30 minutes. Aim to add this exercise routine three to four during the week.
Be sure to maintain correct posture to prevent any further pain in your back. Imagine you have a piece of string attached to the top of your head; use your stomach muscles to support yourself by drawing your belly button in. Be aware of not leaning forward, let your arms swing naturally and keep your hands relaxed.