Walk Your Way to Better Spine Health
Walking is an excellent form of low-impact exercise that offers many health benefits. In general, moderately active people are less likely to experience various aches and pains over their lifetimes. Walking serves to lower blood pressure, boost the body’s immune system and reduce stress. It can also reduce the incidence and severity of low back pain.
Some individuals with back pain find that aerobic exercises tend to aggravate their discomfort, and they are therefore unable to enjoy the benefits of a regular fitness regimen. This can lead to a vicious cycle. Because walking does not stress the spinal anatomy, it can be a good alternative to high-impact activities.
How walking benefits the spine
A regular routine of exercise walking can provide:
- Weight maintenance – Any form of exercise performed consistently can help an individual reach and maintain a healthy weight, which naturally reduces the day-to-day stresses on the spine
- Stronger bones and muscles – Walking strengthens the core components of the spinal anatomy that support the weight of the body
- Improved circulation – Good circulation ensures a continual flow of nutrients to the spinal structure
- Enhanced flexibility and posture – Walking performed along with a light stretching regimen can facilitate a greater range of motion and reduce the risk of injury
Good walking form
While walking, it’s best to keep a fairly rapid pace that allows you to carry on a conversation – you should not be out of breath. Maintain good posture, using your abdominal muscles to support your spine, and relax and swing your arms naturally. Begin slowly by walking for five minutes at a time, then gradually increase to 30-minute walks that cover about two miles three to four times a week.
Because walking requires no expensive equipment and can be performed just about anywhere, it’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine. A physician can recommend complementary activities designed specifically to enhance the strength and flexibility of the back muscles.
Do you find that walking helps to ease your back pain? Share your experience in the comments below.