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Walking Off Back Pain

Stepping Out Is Easy Relief

Walking Off Back Pain

By John Salak –

It’s pretty clear by now that walking regularly—like daily—is a good idea whether it involves a brief stroll or the heralded 10,000 steps a day standard.

The benefits of these steps are numerous and well-reported. They include, among others, reducing stress, promoting sleep, lowering blood pressure, maintaining sound body weight, building heart health and even fighting cancer, according to the Cancer Research UK.

Another bonus just surfaced as well. It can help keep back pain at bay.

More specifically, an Australian study reported that adults with a history of lower back pain went nearly twice as long without a recurrence of discomfort if they walked regularly.

Considering about 800 million people worldwide deal with lower back pain, which leads to disability and a reduced quality of life, the findings from Macquarie University could provide significant relief for these people. The study is especially significant because it’s estimated that about 70 percent of those who experience a severe lower back pain episode are likely to face a recurrence within a year.

Walking also opens up a cost-efficient and accessible treatment for any who may not be able to afford or even use certain traditional exercise-centric back pain treatment plans.

The university’s Spinal Pain Research Group developed its results from a clinical trial involving 701 adults who had recently recovered from an episode of lower back pain. These individuals were randomly allocated to either an individualized walking program and six physiotherapist-guided education sessions over six months or to a control group. The participants were studied for one to three years depending on when they joined.

“The intervention group had fewer occurrences of activity limiting pain compared to the control group, and a longer average period before they had a recurrence, with a median of 208 days compared to 112 days,” noted Professor Mark Hancock, the study’s senior author.

“Walking is a low-cost, widely accessible and simple exercise that almost anyone can engage in, regardless of geographic location, age or socio-economic status,” he added. “We don’t know exactly why walking is so good for preventing back pain, but it is likely to include the combination of the gentle oscillatory movements, loading and strengthening the spinal structures and muscles, relaxation and stress relief, and release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins.”

The research team also cited walking’s ancillary benefits as a bonus to this back pain management approach.

“It not only improved people’s quality of life, but it reduced their need both to seek healthcare support and the amount of time taken off work by approximately half,” lead author Dr. Natasha Pocovi said of the cost-effective treatment plan.

“The exercise-based interventions to prevent back pain that have been explored previously are typically group-based and need close clinical supervision and expensive equipment, so they are much less accessible to the majority of patients,” she said. “Our study has shown that this effective and accessible means of exercise has the potential to be successfully implemented at a much larger scale than other forms of exercise.”





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