Back pain while walking: Where does it come from and what helps?

Walking is one of the most normal basic activities of everyday life.

It is incredibly simple and uniquely important for a strong and healthy back. And yet many people complain of back pain when walking. Often everyday life and the quality of life are then severely restricted.

But that doesn’t have to be the case! Because back pain when walking can be alleviated with a few simple changes. Where the complaints come from and what you can do about them, you will find out in this article.

Causes of back pain when walking

Walking requires active muscle work, in which the pelvis is kept stable and thus the spine is less stressed. Hardly any form of movement tightens the lateral trunk and gluteal muscles more gently than walking. The trunk has to store a lot of energy because the fascia tissue in the back cushions the muscle strength with every step and relieves the spine of kinetic energy.

Actually walking trains important kinetic chains and protects against back pain.

And yet it happens again and again that clients describe that they get back pain when they stroll comfortably through the shops in the city. Do you know the feeling? There can be several reasons for this.

On the one hand, the muscles of the spine can become statically charged when walking slowly. The muscles then do not work dynamically, tense up and relax. Instead, they are in a slight permanent contraction. This results in a compression of the structures in the lower back, to which some affected persons react sensitively (e.g. after a herniated disc). And we also know that muscles that are a permanently tense start to burn and hurt.

On the other hand, slow walking also prevents the arms from swinging.

Normally, the lower back is lashed down and dynamically relieved by a so-called subsystem with each step. Without the arm swing, the large back fascia is lashed down more strongly. This can result in a strong feeling of tension in the lower back. We can release this tension by simple exercises for the fascia in the lower back and related structures.

In most cases, there is nothing bad behind back pain when walking.

But sometimes also a change of the spinal column can be causal, with which the spinal canal narrows. We then speak of spinal canal stenosis. Typically, the first symptoms appear after a few minutes of walking. Prolonged walking or standing then leads to pain or a feeling of weakness in the leg. Many stenosis patients are now insecure and do not know what to do. On the one hand, walking should be good. From experience, however, they know that walking hurts.

What you can now do to get rid of back pain when walking and how stenosis patients can walk without pain, we will look at in the next section.

3 exercises against back pain when walking

Walking is one of the most basic forms of human movement. Due to the dynamic interaction of many muscles, walking is of unique importance for a healthy and strong back. Walking is therefore an indispensable component in alleviating back pain. However, when back pain occurs when walking, some adjustments and targeted training are needed to make walking a real back balm.

Below you will find three important ideas and approaches to get rid of back pain while walking.

Exercise #1: Walking briskly

We have seen that slow walking charges the spine statically, increases compression and cramps the muscles in the lower back. The solution is as simple as it is ingenious: walk briskly with your arms swinging. Many of my clients who complain of back pain when walking find brisk walking relaxing. The muscles can dynamically tighten and relax, the thoracic spine rotates loosely and the fascial system can distribute the energy throughout the entire body.

Three points are decisive:

  • You have to walk quickly!
  • The arms must swing out of the shoulders, not out of the elbows!
  • Don’t step with your leg stretched, but let your legs spring slightly.

These simple adjustments will help make walking a back balm.

Exercise #2: Decompression of the spine in spinal canal stenosis

Stenosis patients often report that a few minutes of painless walking is possible. But after a short time the back starts to hurt. Do you recognize yourself in it? Then you will benefit from a simple decompression of the lower back. And this is how it works:

Lean with both hands on the back of a park bench.

Now lean forward with your weight so that you hold almost all your weight on your hands.

You will notice how the lower back is “pulled apart”. This creates a little more space in the spinal canal.

Do this exercise regularly when you are walking. For example, you can walk quickly for 5 minutes, then decompress the spine, then walk again for 5 minutes and so on. The goal is to extend the pain-free walking intervals so that you can soon say goodbye to back pain when walking.

Exercise #3: Strengthening the subsystems of the spine

Many still think that the fuselage or core consists only of a few individual muscles. In fact, the spine is stabilized by several muscle chains when walking. These are also called subsystems.

In total, there are four important subsystems that perform different tasks to stabilize the spine. If imbalances occur within the subsystems, back pain can occur when walking.

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