Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain?

If you’re facing lower back pain, you’re not alone. Every one of us suffers from low back pain at least once in a lifetime (and this is normal).

There can be numerous reasons why you feel pain in your lower back. Some of the usual causes are lifting weights in the wrong way, weak core, and poor posture.

For example, slouching forward when sitting at a desk all day can put pressure on the discs between the vertebrae (the bones) that support the spine. This puts strain on your lumbar spine and ultimately causes pain in your lower back.

So reason can be anything, but if you want to ease your back without doing proper lower back exercises, you can try brisk walking.

Brisk walking is a form of low-intensity exercise that is faster than usual walking but slower than jogging.

Let’s see what science has to say to about waking in lower back pain.

Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain?

Yes, walking can be a good exercise for lower back pain. Out of several studies and articles published by authoritative sites such as CINAHL, Medline, AMED, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane, and Scopus databases, three lower-ranked studies demonstrated that walking has a positive impact and reduces lower back pain (LBP). 

Whereas some highest-ranked studies indicated no changes in lower back pain.

So, walking may help you decrease your lower back pain. However, further investigation is required to authenticate the efficiency and effectiveness of walking in the management of lower back stress.1 Hendrick P, Te Wake AM, Tikkisetty AS, Wulff L, Yap C, Milosavljevic S. The effectiveness of walking as an intervention for low back pain: a systematic review. Eur Spine J. 2010 Oct;19(10):1613-20. doi: 10.1007/s00586-010-1412-z. Epub 2010 Apr 23. PMID: 20414688; PMCID: PMC2989236.

Benefits of Walking During Lower Back Pain

Walking may work positively for your lower back pain because of the following reasons:

  1. Walking is a low-impact form of exercise.
  2. Walking reduces low back pain and disability and improves the quality of life.
  3. It may be a less-expensive alternative to physical exercise for low back pain.
  4. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force system, walking can be recommended as an effective form of exercise or activity for individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain.2 O’Connor, Seán R et al. “Walking exercise for chronic musculoskeletal pain: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation vol. 96,4 (2015): 724-734.e3. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2014.12.003
  5. Walking exercise can be as effective as strengthening exercise, which requires specialized equipment in rehabilitation clinics.
  6. People who walk regularly are less likely to suffer typical aches and pains over their lifetime.
  7. Walking exercise is the safest way to strengthen the trunk, core, and lumbar spine muscles, which play an important role in maintaining movement and stability in your lower back.
  8. It reduces systolic blood pressure and improves overall cardiovascular health.
  9. Daily walking reduces body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI).
  10. Walking strengthens bones and improved balance.

Right Ways to Walk to Ease Lower Back Pain

Walking helps reduce low back pain, but if you walk at a proper speed and to a limited distance. Walking can harm more than good if your intensity is high or if you walk too much.

Here are some important things you need to keep in your mind while walking.

Speed

It is recommended to run at your self-selected speed. Your walking speed depends on several factors, such as age, gender, weight as well as height.

For example, if I’m a 45 years old male, height 180 cm, and weight 180lbs, then my moderate walking speed would be 6 km per hour.

Time

If you want to know how much time should I walk every day to reduce low back pain? So the answer is only a 10 to 15 minutes walk daily at a self-selected speed.

15 minutes of walking on the treadmill at your own pace led to a reduction in the LBP, has been shown in a study published by European spine journal.3 Taylor NF, Evans OM, Goldie PA. The effect of walking faster on people with acute low back painEur Spine J. 2003;12(2):166-172. doi:10.1007/s00586-002-0498-3 But, when you’re fine, you should at least walk 30 minutes a day to stay active.

Distance

So, now the question is, how much should you walk? Well, for an active person, walking 10000 steps a day is recommended. But If you’ve lower back pain, then you should at least aim for 3000 steps each day until you feel a reduction in your LBP.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If walking doesn’t ease your lower back pain in 3 to five days, then it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor.

Final Words

Lower back pain is the most common type of disorder that everyone faces at least once in their life. There are different types of LBP, such as “acute” (lasts for up to three months) and “chronic” (lasts for more than three months).

You can try walking because walking up to 20 minutes every day at a self-selected pace can help you ease your lower back pain (but not in all cases and not every time). Because it also depends on the type of pain.

Along with walking, you can try some of the isometric exercises for reducing your lower back pain: Bird dog pose, locust pose, McGill Curl-up hold, superman hold, etc.

Please note: If walking helps ease lower back pain, then it’s good. Otherwise, it’s always best to see a doctor when you feel lower back discomfort.

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Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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