JUN 27, 2024 9:00 AM PDT

Regular Walking Relieves Back Pain

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in The Lancet has shown that walking regularly can prevent the recurrence of back pain in patients with a history of lower back pain.

The randomized controlled trial included about 700 participants who had recently recovered from a bout of lower back pain. All participants had pain that lasted for at least 24 hours and did not receive a specific diagnosis related to their back pain. The participants were divided into two groups: the first group was assigned to a progressive walking and education program with six meetings with a physiotherapist for six months, while the second group was assigned no treatment as a control. Participants were then followed for 12–36 months and monitored for the recurrence of lower back pain. Exercise is recommended to prevent lower back pain, but the effectiveness of exercise programs to prevent the recurrence of pain is unknown.

The results showed that the group who participated in the walking intervention had significantly fewer instances of recurring lower back pain, and they also had a longer average time before recurrences. Overall, those in the walking group went nearly twice as long as the control group before a recurrence of their back pain.

The authors noted that walking is a cheap, accessible, and intuitive exercise that effectively prevents lower back pain. While the mechanism of pain prevention is unclear, it may be partially due to the strengthening of muscles in the spine, stress relief, the release of endorphins, or the gentle undulating motions of walking. In addition to its positive effects on back pain and chronic pain, walking and other physical activity has positive effects on heart health, blood pressure, and glucose metabolism. Walking is an accessible and effective way to incorporate regular physical activity into one’s daily schedule as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Sources: The Lancet, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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