Friday March 4, 2016

Walk your way to back pain relief!

Are you experiencing tightness or discomfort in your lower-back? Try taking a walk, suggests physical therapist Mary Rose Luciano, PT,DPT, OCS.

According to Luciano, of New Life Physical Therapy’s Portage clinic, studies have shown walking to be effective in preventing, alleviating and even treating pain in the spine, a condition that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will affect eight of 10 U.S. citizens in their lifetimes.

Movement and exercise is so beneficial for the body, and the blood flow and other benefits of walking can be of great benefit to those experiencing stiffness and discomfort in their lower backs, said Luciano. Not only does it increase blood flow and promote mobility in the spine, but as a regular exercise, walking offers so many other health benefits from losing weight and reducing blood pressure to warding off diseases like diabetes and osteoporosis.

Such perspective is welcoming news as the weather warms, the days get longer and people are encouraged to get outdoors through efforts such as Take a Walk in the Park Day, which is recognized each year on March 30.

Walking is one of the easiest and most popular ways for people to exercise, and it doesn’t cost a thing, said Luciano. You don’t have to change into workout gear or head to the gym, and besides a good pair of shoes, you need no special equipment. We live in such beautiful communities, and it serves as a great way to appreciate our natural surroundings and get some fresh air.

And yet, the benefits are real. According to Luciano, a regular walking regimen can lead to:

Stronger Muscles: Stronger feet, legs, hips and core muscles will increase stability of the spine, keeping the body upright and balanced.

Healthier Spine: Walking improves circulation throughout the body, allowing the body to better hydrate and nourish the spine’s soft tissues while washing away toxins.

Better Flexibility & Posture: Along with regular stretching, walking helps increase the body’s range of motion. The promotion of better movement can lead to injury prevention.

According to a study published in The Spine Journal, walking also stimulate the brain into releasing serotonin and endorphins, neurotransmitter chemicals that make you feel better both mentally and physically. Coupled with the natural distractions within your surroundings the stop and smell the roses aspect of your typical walk in the park the study found a 10 to 50 percent reduction in low-back pain after just a single walk.

However, if walking is painful or back pain makes it difficult to stand up and move around, it’s important to visit a physical therapist for a thorough pain assessment, Luciano said. While walking is great for preventing and alleviating discomfort, pain could be a sign of injury. A physical therapist can determine the source of your pain and get you back to doing the important things in life that make your life worth living.