Back Exercise: Walking for Back Pain

Do you walk much? How and where do you walk? Walking is excellent lower back exercise. If you don't walk much, this could explain some of your back pain.

Walking on fairly soft, even surfaces is good back exercise. It's excellent for back pain, most of all lower back pain.

Take care to keep your eye on the world around you, not on your feet. Many people on a city street stare at the ground as they walk. Talking to a friend? Make sure you continue to look out of your eyes, either at your friend or at something in front of you as you walk.

Why Walk?

  • Walking is good for sloughing off a bit of stress
  • Some of your best ideas will come to you while walking. It does your brain good
  • Walking is good for your arms if you let them swing gently. Try not to carry things in your hands or put your hands in your pockets every time you walk. Your arms are part of natural walking motion and balance
  • Walking also helps because it uses your lower back, which is chronically under-used by people who sit to work.
  • Your lower back is where your arms are “rooted” in the body, so walking is relevant to arms in this way too. (If you’re intrigued by anatomy, have a look at Latissimus Dorsi to see how your largest arm muscle arises from six rib vertebrae, all lumbar (lower back) vertebrae and the sacrum.
  • Like all exercise, walking improves your circulation. Some people believe that circulation is all about your heart pumping blood around your body. Actually, the body is full of little secondary pumps that help your heart, including two in your lower legs and feet. These pumps work best when you walk regularly during your day.

How to Walk More

Arranging your life a little differently can make walking more likely to happen during your day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Park a little further from work, and walk the last bit
  • Use a bus, if you can, and walk to and from the bus stop
  • Meet friends and go for a walk, rather than sit in a cafe (walk to another cafe a bit further away?)
  • Join a local walking club. Many cities have them. Or start your own (example)

Click here for more on lower back exercise.

Handbag tip: carry a handbag or bag with shoulder-strap across your body rather than on the same-side shoulder. Same-side shoulder encourages you to contract and raise the shoulder so the bag doesn’t slip off. This does no good to your neck, back, shoulder or arm.

High Heels tip: Back pain isn't inevitable when you're wearing high heels. Watch Alexander Teacher Chyna Whyne demonstrating.