Lower back pain 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
If you suffer from lower back pain, you need not go to costly and time-consuming
sessions with a physical therapist – just walk! That is the advice from a
researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions
at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Michal Katz-Leurer and her
colleague Ilana Shnayderman, a graduate student at Tel Aviv University’s
department of physical therapy and a practicing physiotherapist at Maccabi
Health Fund, maintain that a simple aerobic walking program is as effective in
alleviating lower back pain as muscle strengthening programs that require
specialized equipment in rehabilitation clinics. One need walk only two to three
times a week for 20 to 40 minutes to enjoy the benefit.
Lower back pain
is very common at all ages and often requires many hours of physical therapy.
But the researchers, whose study was just published in the journal Clinical
Rehabilitation, say their treatment option fits easily into a daily routine and
allows those with back pain to be more responsible for their own
According to their study, people suffering from lower back pain
should not rest in bed and be immobile. When people walk actively, abdominal and
back muscles work in much the same way as when they complete exercises that
target these areas, the researchers found. And unlike muscle-strengthening
programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that
require expert supervision, walking is a simple activity that can be done
For the study, the researchers recruited 52 patients with lower
back pain to participate in a randomized control trial.
questionnaires, they were initially assessed for pain levels, feelings of
disability and avoidance of daily activities, as well as muscle and walking
Then, half of the participants completed a typical clinic-based
muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions a week for six
weeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two
to three times weekly. Participants started with 20 minutes of walking, then
progressed to 40 minutes as their endurance improved.
Results showed that
both groups improved significantly in all areas of assessment, showing that the
walking program was “as effective as treatment that could have been received in
the clinic,” said Katz-Leurer.
She continued that the walking program has
the additional advantage of encouraging patients to follow a healthier lifestyle
overall. In terms of physical fitness, those in the walking group were able to
walk an average of 0.05 miles farther during a six-minute walking test at the
end of the program compared to the pre-program assessments.
She also noted
that regularly active people are less likely to suffer typical aches and pains
over their lifetime. Walking, a low-impact activity, also lowers blood pressure,
boosts brain and immune system functioning and reduces stress, she said.