Yes, walking can make your back pain worse. Many doctors will recommend that you walk regularly to alleviate your back pain, but for certain conditions walking will only hurt you more. Let me explain…
If you’re experiencing Sciatica then every time you step forward with the affected leg, you’re stretching the sciatic nerve which will only inflame your condition. Walking will get the muscles to loosen up some, but after you are finished with your exercise then the inflammation sets in and you’ll feel worse later in the day.
The same thing goes for a herniated or bulging disc. The compression of your spinal bones on the disc actually pushes harder on the disc inflaming the surrounding joints and nerves.
So when can you begin walking?
That depends on many factors. If your pain is isolated to your low back only then walking short distances is O.K. as long as you don’t normally have pain when you’re standing or walking short distances. However, if you have pain in your lower back when you stand, then you should refrain from walking until you correct the muscular and postural imbalances around your spine.
You see, any activity can flare up your low back pain if you have muscular imbalances in your body. If you continue to ignore these issues, then over time your condition will get worse… to the point that a spinal surgery is your only option.
I know that some people hate exercise so much that they would rather just have the surgery instead. Unfortunately, the reason that surgery fails so frequently is that the surgeons never addressed the postural and muscular imbalances in the first place… and now after your surgery, you have even more instability in your spine than before. YES… even after a spinal fusion, your low back is more unstable than before. That’s why the surgeons even tell you prior to the surgery that it’s likely that the discs above and below the fusion will get bad within the next few years. And guess where they send you next?
To the physical therapist!
So this person had the surgery to avoid exercising and fixing the problem on their own, and then they still have to go to physical therapy afterwards… often for months!
So how can you fix these imbalances on your own?
These are just a few of the things that can be going wrong…
- You may have over pronated feet
- You may have foot flare from tight external rotators of the hips
- You may have tight hamstrings
- You may have weak quadriceps
- You may have tight calves
- You may have tight iliopsoas
- You may have weak abdominals
- You may have tight low back erectors
- You may have weak gluteal muscles
- You may have tight piriformis muscles
Now if you have no clue how to identify any of these problems, then how are you going to correct them? Well, using the Doctor’s Back Pain System is the number one method available that addresses each of these issues. There are audios, videos, and manuals with pictures included that help you identify your own personal imbalances so you can fix them without spending months going through physical therapy. There are basically 3 different types of muscular imbalances. Once I help you identify your specific pattern, then all you have to do is follow the recommended action plan that’s included in the system. All 3 patterns are included so there is nothing more that you’ll need.
Now… If you think your pain isn’t that bad and you’re ready for walking then the best thing you can do is to walk on a treadmill. This decreases the impact on your feet and legs… But not everybody has access to a treadmill. So the next best thing is to walk outside near your house.
The biggest mistake my patients have made in the past is that they walk too far away from their home. What happens if you walk a half mile in one direction from your house and then the pain sets in? How will you get back home without making your symptoms worse?
I always tell my patients to only walk around one block in their neighborhood. Keep the distance from your home very short so if you get in trouble with pain, you won’t have far to get back home. Now if you get back to your house and you’re feeling great, then walk around the block again… and again if you can.
If you live out on a country road, then walk 1/8 or 1/4 mile in one direction… turn around, and walk back to your house. Then go 1/8 to 1/4 mile in the other direction. Just keep going back and forth in front of your house, again so you won’t be stuck too far away from home if you all of a sudden experience pain.
My best advice to you about walking is… Take is slow!!!
The conveniences in life have made it far too easy on us to the point that we don’t even realize how easy we have it.
Let me explain…
We never have to walk a distance that allows pain to flare up. Think about this for a minute… you walk from your bed to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the couch, back to the kitchen, back to the bathroom, back to the couch.
What about when you’re running errands? You walk from the house to the car, from the car to the store, from the store back to the car, and from the car back to the house… And the entire time you’re walking on concrete, pavement, carpet or some other flat flooring. You never have to walk very far and you never have to walk on an unstable surface.
That’s why so many people injure, or re-injure their back when they are at the airport. Unless you get carted around in a wheel chair, you may have to walk up to a mile or more just going from the parking garage to the terminals.
So just because you think you’re ready for walking long distances, doesn’t mean you are ready. And that’s why I’m telling you that WALKING MAKES BACK PAIN WORSE… If not done carefully, and at the right time.
Don’t forget, almost every one of us has muscle imbalances in our bodies. When these imbalances become chronic over time then the question isn’t “if your in pain,” it’s “when will you be in pain?” It’s a guarantee that pain will hit you again down the road if you don’t address the cause of your problems first.
Yours in health,
Dr Jason Hurst, DC