Tandem Physical Therapy

Is Walking Good For Back Pain?

Most of the time when we have pain in our low back we don’t want to move. We want to find a comfortable place on the couch and rest until we feel better. However, WHAT IF the key to your recovery IS movement!? But not just any movement – intentional and safe movement, such as walking.

Before we go into how to start a walking program for low back pain, let’s start at the beginning – what are we talking about when we say our low back. The “low back” is our layman’s term to talk about our lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is composed of 5 bones, called vertebrae. These vertebrae are connected by joint capsules, tendons, ligaments and muscles, all of which help your body move in a variety of directions.

Another big structure in your lumbar spine (aka the low back) are the discs. You have 1 disc between each vertebrae to help maintain the space between the bones. In addition to maintaining space, the discs also help absorb the force that we put through our body on a day to day basis. When walking, gravity and our bodies put forces through the fibers of these discs. Therefore, the discs are gently challenged through the simple activity of walking. This is key to recovery…gently challenging the fibers of the discs so they receive the forces they need to repair themselves through our own body’s healing process.

So, how do we start a walking program? Let’s start by establishing our 3 phases: warm up, exercise, and cool down.

  1. To warm up, begin with 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching. These can be activities such as ankle circles, alternating knee hugs, butt kicks, and hip circles. Your aim during this period is to slowly increase your heart rate, increase your blood flow, and move your
  2. Next, you should start your exercise, which in our case is walking! My top tip for anyone wanting to start a walking program is to gradually increase the time you walk to ensure that you don’t overwork yourself. For example, start with a 15 minute walk the first day, and assess how you feel the next day. If you feel good, with no increase in your pain, then increase your walking time to 20-25 minutes. However, if you have an increase in pain or feel that you’ve overdone it, decrease your walking time. Continue this process until you reach your time goal. It may take a couple of days or even weeks to reach a point where you feel comfortable increasing your time and that is OKAY! Everybody’s progress is different and so go at your own pace.
  3. Lastly, end with a cool down period. This should consist of gentle stretching, mainly focusing on your legs which have done most of the work. Additionally, if you’re feeling

To learn more about how you can safely begin a walking program after a back injury, call us at 504-407-3477. We’ll get you set up and on your way!

Scroll to Top