Many people mistakenly believe that the best way to treat a sore lower back is to rest. However, modern research has shown that a regular walking routine is the best treatment and prevention of low back pain, while restriction of activity and bed-rest are things of the past. If you need a little more convincing before lacing up those sneakers and heading out the door, read on to learn about the range of benefits that you will reap from introducing a daily walking regimen.
BENEFITS SPECIFIC TO LOWER BACK
1. Walking strengthens muscles
Do you remember that song about the human body from your childhood? The one that goes: “the shin bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone…” well, that childhood song actually carries some scientific truth.
The lower back region is supported by muscles in the trunk and core, in addition to those in the lower back. A less active lifestyle results in deconditioning, weakness, and even physically smaller muscles (atrophy) which can compromise the structure and integrity of the spine itself. These changes will lead to pain, further weakness, and possibly even mal-alignment of the vertebrae. By simply maintaining a regular level of activity, i.e., with a short daily walk, you can prevent this negative cycle.
Regular walking can improve overall muscle vitality, simply on a physical level. Blood is the transport system of the body. It brings oxygen, nutrients, and healing factors to cells; while simultaneously flushing away toxins and cellular waste product. Exercise increases and optimizes blood flow throughout the muscles. For this very reason, the innovative Traction On the Move treatment plan pioneered by Meditrac, couples exercise with traction to accelerate healing in the spine itself. If you suffer from low back pain please visit Traction on the Move to learn more about this non-invasive, drug free, proven treatment method.
2. Walking increases muscle flexibility
Muscles that are not used or exercised regularly will become tight and short. Imagine modeling clay. It never fully dries out or hardens, but the longer that it sits untouched, the more strength and effort is required to mold it. So too, your muscles will work and support your bones better if they are regularly stretched and exercised.
Muscles that maintain their optimal length are stronger than shortened muscles because the greater length allows them to generate more force at the joint. Tight and shortened muscles in the lower back, hip, or thigh can even affect the curvature of the spine, resulting in pain and dysfunction. Walking will naturally stretch muscles and tendons in these regions, which will maintain healthy range of motion and optimal tensile length and force to the muscles and supporting muscles of the lower back.
GENERAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Most common diseases have modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. What do we mean by this? According to the AHA, white males over the age of 40 with a family history of cardiovascular disease are considered high risk for developing the disease themselves. Smoking, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol further increase the risk.
Non-modifiable risk factors are those that we cannot change like: gender, age, race, and family history. Modifiable risk factors like diet and exercise give us some preventative power. Increasing your activity level and changing your diet to include more whole grains, fiber, and healthy fats has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and even improve anxiety and depression. The addition of a daily walking routine, even if it is short, can go a long way to restoring and maintaining your health. Making these small lifestyle changes can put you back in driver’s seat, regaining some measure of control over your body.
It’s easy to fall into sedentary habits. Challenge yourself to get moving today, it’s okay to start small! Rome wasn’t built in a day after all. Choose one aspect of your daily routine, and incorporate it into a 5 – 7 minute walk. It can be as simple as walking to the nearest mailbox instead of driving to the post office or maybe checking in on an elderly neighbor in person instead of calling. A healthier, pain-free life is just waiting for you to reach out and take it by the hand.