Earlier in human history, we would not have come home after a day of hunting and gathering and then tried to fit in a series of sit-ups before dinner. Our life was full of physical activity, which did not need to be supplemented by intentionally doing exercises. However, our modern society has deprived us of variable movement and many essential activities. So replacing this loss of physical activity seems reasonable. But when it comes to exercise in order to help spinal complaints, what is the best approach and how complex do these exercises need to be?

There does not seem to be any argument concerning the beneficial role of exercise in spinal health. But the type of exercise you should do to improve your spinal health is not clear. In recent years, patients with low back pain have been prescribed exercises which aim to stabilise the spine. These typically involve approaches for enhancing ‘core strength and stability’ that focus on your midsection, such as your abdominal and lower back muscles.

However, a number of studies have shown that the simple act of walking is often just as helpful for chronic low back pain sufferers as made-to-measure spinal stabilisation exercises. For example, a study by Hurley et al. (1) concluded that,

“We found no difference in the effectiveness of a walking program, an evidence-based exercise class and usual physiotherapy for improvement in clinical outcomes for people with chronic low back pain.”

While these studies highlight the benefits of walking for people with chronic low back pain, not all forms of walking are equal in this regard. Lee et al. (2) found that walking at a slower pace was not as effective at activating the deep intrinsic muscles of the spine as higher speed walking, while Karadeniz (3) found that walking on the ground was superior to treadmill walking for patients with chronic low back pain.

From a chiropractic perspective, it is also important to note that another advantage of walking is that the intervertebral discs are greatly dependent upon motion to help maintain their health.

In conclusion, while receiving spinal adjustments from your Canberra Chiropractor will always be the most essential thing you can do to help deal with your low back pain, as far as exercise goes, walking briskly outdoors seems like an easy, inexpensive way to help you get on the road to recovery.

1. Hurley, D. A., Tully, M. A., Lonsdale, C., Boreham, C. A. G., van Mechelen, W., Daly, L., et al. (2015). Supervised walking in comparison with fitness training for chronic back pain in physiotherapy. Pain, 156(1), 131–147. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.0000000000000013
2. Lee, H. S., Shim, J. S., Lee, S. T., Kim, M., & Ryu, J. S. (2014). Facilitating Effects of Fast and Slope Walking on Paraspinal Muscles. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, 38(4), 514–9.http://doi.org/10.5535/arm.2014.38.4.514
3. Karadeniz, M. (2013). Assessment and Comparing of Effectiveness of Over Ground and Treadmill Walking in Chronic Low Back Patients. International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 2(1), 1–5. http://doi.org/10.4172/2329-9096.1000181