Free and simple lifestyle change can treat lower back pain

Free and simple lifestyle change can treat lower back pain

Around one in six adults in England suffer from lower back pain (Picture: Getty)

Good news. Scientists have discovered a free and easy way to prevent lower back pain from recurring. 

And it’s as simple as taking a walk.

Spinal pain researchers from Macquarie University in Australia conducted a world-first study to look into how walking can help stop pain in the lower back from recurring.

They found that people who walked five times a week for an average of 30 minutes a day, and received coaching from a physiotherapist, remained pain-free for nearly twice as long compared with those who did not receive any treatment.

Regular steps also improved patients’ quality of life, and the amount of time they had to take off work almost halved, the researchers said.

Publishing the findings in the journal The Lancet, the researchers said that walking could have a ‘profound impact’ on a condition that affects around 800 million people worldwide. 

Just 30 minutes five times a week can help with the pain (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

Currently, back pain management and prevention involves a combination of exercise, therapy and, in some cases, surgery.

The scientists followed 701 adults who had recently recovered from an episode of lower back pain over a period of one to three years. Half of the participants were given a tailored walking programme and education sessions from a physiotherapist. The other half were not provided with any specific intervention but could seek treatment if symptoms returned.

They found that the intervention group had fewer occurrences of activity-limiting pain, and had a longer average period before a recurrence. 

Senior author Professor Mark Hancock said: ‘Walking is a low-cost, widely accessible and simple exercise that almost anyone can engage in, regardless of geographic location, age or socio-economic status.

‘We don’t know exactly why walking is so good for 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.

‘And of course, we also know that walking comes with many other health benefits, including cardiovascular health, bone density, healthy weight, and improved mental health.’

Low back pain: the stats

Around one in six adults in England have some form of back pain 
Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the UK 
There are several risk factors such as age, smoking, obesity and heavy physical lifting in the workplace

Source: Arthritis Research UK

Lead author Dr Natasha Pocovi said: ‘It not only improved people’s quality of life, but it reduced their need both to seek healthcare support and the amount of time taken off work by approximately half. 

‘Our study has shown that this effective and accessible means of exercise has the potential to be successfully implemented at a much larger scale than other forms of exercise.’

The researchers now hope to explore further how they can integrate walking into the routine care of patients who experience recurring low back pain. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *