walking for lower back pain reliefAccording to Hippocrates, some 2400 years ago, walking is man’s best medicine.  But, is walking the best medicine for lower back pain relief?

Unfortunately, recent research doesn’t offer much of an answer.  In a study published this year in the European Spine Journal, the authors looked at the effectiveness of walking as an intervention for low back pain relief.  The results of this study showed no evidence in favor of walking as a treatment for low back pain.  

The conclusions from this study speak more to the lack of research in this area than it does to the specific benefits of walking, according to the lead author, Paul Hendrick from the University of Otago, New Zealand.  Hendrick goes on to advise health care practitioners to continue to encourage walking as a viable back pain management strategy.   

For patients with acute low back pain, the research suggests that the best back pain advice is to resume normal activity as quickly as possible.  And for most people, walking is a normal activity.  However, there is no evidence to support that exercises such as yoga, Pilates, or walking is more advantageous than just resuming normal activity.

For patients who are experiencing chronic lower back pain, there is evidence to suggest that back pain exercises can be effective, but no specific exercises stands out among others.  

Bottom line:  We very strongly encourage our patients to walk as a means of managing their low back pain.  Aside from the obvious health benefits, walking helps with the nutrition of the spine, assists with reducing muscle pain in lower back, and is an effective lower back strengthening exercise.  

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