Back pain is common problem that affects millions of people around the world; it influences one’s performance at work, school, and home. Individuals with persistent pain problems of the lower back often take medications for pain relief to alleviate these symptoms. Although physicians recommend that patients suffering from back pain engage in proper diet and regular exercise, there is still a need to specifically address certain activities that may result in significant pain relief.
A recent medical report published in the journal Pain Research and Treatment showed that walking can decrease the intensity of back pain and more importantly, walking at higher speed can result in more enhanced pain relief. Using a study population of 60 individuals, the researchers of the study examined walking speed, gait, and occurrence of pain problems in specific parts of the body. The study population was further classified into three groups based on the pain characteristics of the participants. One group consisted of 20 study participants who were suffering from back pain only, another 20 subjects were experiencing leg pain that was attributable to back problems, and another 20 subjects were healthy, pain-free individuals.
The study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that included questions regarding the level of pain that they were suffering, as well as the occurrence of any other medical disorders. The study participants were also assessed in terms of height, weight, and body mass index. In addition, the study participants were also of their preferred walking speed, whether they would rather walk at a slow, medium, or fast pace during their daily activities. These individuals were also asked to engage in a gait analysis experiment, which involved walking at various speeds on a walkway in the laboratory. This equipment measured the speed of walking, thus allowing the researchers to monitor their pace during this physical activity.
The results of the study showed that the group with leg pain suffered more during walking. Interestingly, the members of the group with back problems only showed a significant improvement during the walking exercise in the laboratory. The researchers concluded that walking itself, especially at higher speeds, imparted an analgesic effect on these study participants, resulting in a reduced level of pain in their lower back.
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The researchers explained that having leg pain may have changed the gait of the study participants during walking, thus resulting in more pronounced pain problems. On the other hand, those individuals who were experiencing pain problems in their lower back only experienced pain relief that was attributable to the walking activity. Contrary to our common notion that rapid walking can induce more damage when we are suffering from lower back problems, this research study has directly shown that walking itself can improve symptoms of back pain.
Walking is a physical activity that involves movement of muscles and joints of various parts of the body. This activity also requires changes in motion that improves the flexibility and strength of the musculoskeletal system. This recent medical study has shown that this particular physical exercise not only improves cardiovascular health, but also imparts an analgesic effect on individuals suffering from persistent pain in the lower back. Physicians and physical therapists may benefit from the information provided in this report and this may also be included in the design of patient-tailored exercise regimens.