Why Walking Is the Best Exercise for Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain can lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity that only prolongs your discomfort. But what if you could recover more quickly after an episode of back pain? A meta-analysis study from a few years ago examined the effects of walking exercise on pain and self-reported function in individuals with chronic back pain. The authors of this systematic review of 26 studies (2,384 participants) concluded two key things:

1. Walking should be recommended as an effective form of exercise or activity for individuals with chronic back pain.

That makes sense to me as a chiropractor because most people don’t do their exercises at home, so instead, I recommend walking for most of my patients. Walking helps with recovering from an episode of back pain, but there are so many other benefits as well.

Regular physical activity can improve the health and quality of life of people of all ages. In fact, among adults, physical activity can lower the risk of:

  • Early death
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Breast and colon cancer
  • Falls
  • Depression

2. Walking should be supplemented with strategies aimed at maintaining participation.

Walking is one of the easiest ways to be more active, but people often need a plan or goal for staying motivated.

One little secret of medicine and social sciences is how measurement itself creates improvement. This means if you want to increase your activity, measure how much you move. When people are assigned to wear a pedometer as part of randomized controlled trials, they walk at least one extra mile per day on average.


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