Walking May Be the Best Medicine for Low Back Pain

A new study finds walking is extremely effective at managing low back pain and preventing recurrences.

Simply walking may be the best ‘medicine’ for low back pain.

The condition, which impacts about 800 million people worldwide, is a leading cause of disability and reduced quality of life. Exercise and education are commonly prescribed, but researchers say cost is sometimes a roadblock for patients.

In a new study, they looked at whether walking could be an effective, accessible and free solution.

701 patients who recently recovered from an episode of low back pain were randomly assigned to either an individualized walking program or therapist-guided education sessions.

After one to three years of follow-up, those in the walking group had fewer occurrences of activity-limiting pain and a longer average period before they had a recurrence -- 208 days compared to 112 days.

The senior author says they don’t know exactly why walking works so well at 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.”

Participants in the walking group also had to take less time off from work because of pain.

Source: The Lancet

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