Back pain is a common problem and one of the top reasons people visit their doctor every year. While you may have the urge to stay in bed if your back hurts, staying active is a much healthier choice. The doctors and physical therapists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) often recommend walking as the best exercise for your back.
Walking is easy, affordable and has many benefits for your overall health. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment or an expensive gym membership. You don’t need special equipment, and you can do it indoors or outdoors. The path to getting healthier starts by putting one foot in front of the other.
The Benefits of Walking
When you incorporate walking into your routine, you may be surprised to find it helps ease your back pain as well as other aches and pains you’ve been experiencing. It’s also effective in preventing lower back pain before it ever starts. Walking isn’t hard on the joints the way some other types of aerobic exercise can be, which is one of the reasons walking is the best exercise for your back.
Besides helping to relieve back pain, walking improves your balance and coordination and leads to weight loss and bone density improvement. It can even decrease feelings of depression or anxiety. Other benefits of walking include:
- Strengthening bones and muscles. Walking can help strengthen the muscles and bones in your legs, hips, feet, torso and back. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, you need to start slowly, but you get much stronger with time.
- Improving flexibility. Stretch before you walk to help with your back’s flexibility and range of motion. This reduces the severity of back pain you’re currently experiencing and may help to prevent future back pain.
- Stimulating neurotransmitters. One of the reasons walking is the best exercise for your back is that it stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin. This makes you feel better mentally and reduces the sensation of pain in your back.
- Improving circulation. Being physically active by walking benefits your circulatory system. Your body’s ability to pump nutrients into tissues and drain toxins improves, which nourishes your spine.
Getting Started with the Best Exercise for Your Back
Before you begin, get the all-clear from your SSI team, especially if you’ve undergone a procedure. Follow their directions and start slowly by walking for maybe 10 minutes a day. Gradually build up distance and speed. Getting started can be as simple as walking around the block, through the mall or on a treadmill.
If you have back pain, it’s important to walk on a flat surface since hills can cause you to lean forward and put strain on your back. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself at the beginning. Practice good posture while walking to prevent back pain.
The best exercise for your back may cause a slight amount of discomfort at first. Your doctors at SSI can guide you through building a walking program that works for you. They can also keep you informed about recognizing your limits and learning what type of pain shouldn’t be ignored. Talk to the experts at SSI about starting a walking program today.