Walking Can Prevent Back Pain From Coming Back

For adults with a history of lower back pain, walking may provide a simple remedy: Researchers have found that patients who followed an easy walking program were able to go nearly twice as long without their backache returning as others not in the program.

“A simple, low-cost, and accessible exercise strategy such as walking can prevent the recurrence of low back pain when coupled with education,” says lead study author Natasha Pocovi, PhD, a physiotherapist and researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The findings were published in The Lancet.

“We were surprised at just how much the intervention also could impact people’s lives aside from improving their low back pain,” Dr. Pocovi adds. “We had patients who reported improved sleep, mood, positive lifestyle changes, and improved management of other chronic health conditions.”

Back Pain Recurs Within a Year in 7 out of Every 10 People

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world, according to a recent analysis. More than 600 million people suffer from back pain globally and that number is expected to climb to 843 million by 2050.

About 7 out of 10 individuals experience a recurrence of low back pain within a year following recovery from an episode.

Physical therapy guidelines recommend a combination of exercise, manual therapy, and education as the best treatment.

But many people can’t get effective treatment because of the high cost and the need for professional supervision, according to Pocovi and her study coauthors.

New Study Followed Adults With Back Pain for Up to 3 Years

For this clinical trial, the research team enlisted 701 adults who had recently recovered from an episode of back pain. Just over half were assigned to an intervention group and received an individualized walking program with six physiotherapist-guided education sessions; the remainder were placed in a control group without a specific instruction or treatment.


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