Study Finds Walking Reduces Recurrence of Lower Back Pain

Walking Can Prevent Recurrence of Low Back Pain

A groundbreaking study has discovered that adults with a history of low back pain can significantly delay the return of their pain by simply walking regularly. This is a crucial finding because low back pain is a widespread issue affecting around 800 million people globally and is a major cause of disability and reduced quality of life.


Many people experience recurring episodes of low back pain, with about 70% of those who recover from an episode having a relapse within a year.

The current best practices for managing and preventing back pain usually involve a mix of exercise and education. However, many forms of exercise are either too expensive, too complex or require overseeing, making them beyond reach for a lot of people.

A clinical trial was conducted by researchers from the Spinal Pain Research Group based at Macquarie University to see if walking could be a practical, low-cost alternative. The trial included 701 adults who had recently recovered from episodes of low back pain.

These participants were divided into two separate groups: One group participated in a customized walking program. They also attended six educational sessions led by a physiotherapist over a period of six months. The other group did not go through any of these activities.

The researchers monitored the participants for one to three years, depending on when they joined the study. The results, now published in The Lancet, indicate a significant benefit for those in the walking group. According to Macquarie University Professor of Physiotherapy, Mark Hancock, the walking group had fewer episodes of pain that limited activity and enjoyed a longer period before experiencing a recurrence of their pain, with an average of 208 days compared to 112 days for the control group.

Professor Hancock explained that walking is a simple, low-cost exercise that is accessible to almost everyone, regardless of where they live, their age, or their economic status. He noted that while the exact reasons why walking helps prevent back pain are not entirely clear, it likely involves gentle movements that strengthen the spine and muscles, reduce stress, and release endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that make people feel good. Additionally, walking has other health benefits, such as improving heart health, bone strength, maintaining a healthy weight, and enhancing mental health.


Dr. Natasha Pocovi, the study’s lead author, mentioned that the walking program not only provided longer periods without pain but was also very cost-effective. It improved the participants’ quality of life and reduced their need to seek healthcare support and the amount of time they had to take off work by about half.

Dr. Pocovi highlighted that previous exercise-based programs to prevent back pain usually required group sessions, close clinical supervision, and expensive equipment, making them less accessible for many people. This study has demonstrated that walking is an effective and accessible form of exercise that could be implemented on a larger scale than other, more complex forms of exercise.

Following these promising results, the research team aims to explore how they can integrate this preventive walking approach into the routine care of patients who frequently suffer from low back pain.

Author Bio

Devon Andre has been involved in the health and dietary supplement industry for a number of years. Devon has written extensively for Bel Marra Health. He has a Bachelor of Forensic Science from the University of Windsor, and went on to complete a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. Devon is keenly aware of trends and new developments in the area of health and wellness. He embraces an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, he hopes to improve their health and quality of life.