Regular Walking Reduces Recurrence of Back Pain, Study Finds

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A recent study discovered that walking for thirty minutes, five days a week, reduced the frequency of recurring lower back pain by nearly half. The authors suggested that prioritising preventive care could result in substantial future cost savings.

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet this week advocates regular walks as an economical and straightforward method to potentially prevent recurring back pain.

Trials demonstrated that patients who engaged in half-hour walks five times a week and received guidance from a physiotherapist experienced fewer flare-ups compared to a control group.

The researchers noted that patients also reported enhanced perceived quality of life and nearly halved their time off work.

The authors expressed optimism that these cost-effective and uncomplicated measures could profoundly impact a condition that ranks as the primary cause of disability globally.

"Walking is a low-cost, widely accessible, and simple exercise that almost anyone can participate in, regardless of where they live, their age, or socio-economic status," remarked co-author Mark Hancock, a professor of physiotherapy at Macquarie University in Australia.

Approximately 800 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from lower back pain, with seven out of ten experiencing recurrences within a year of recovery from an episode.

The study monitored 700 adults who had recently recovered from a bout of lower back pain for up to three years.

Half of these individuals, selected randomly, followed a tailored walking programme and received support from a physiotherapist, while the remainder formed a control group, pursuing their own preferred personal or medical strategies.

"The intervention group experienced fewer instances of pain that limited their activities compared to the control group, and a longer average period before recurrence, with a median of 208 days versus 112 days," stated Hancock.

Although the precise reasons why walking is beneficial for preventing back pain are not fully understood, Hancock suggested several factors, including gentle rhythmic movements, strengthening of spinal structures and muscles, relaxation, stress relief, and the release of endorphins.

Hancock added that walking also provides numerous other significant health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health, bone density, aiding weight loss, and enhancing mental well-being.

The authors of the study highlighted the increasing prevalence of lower back pain as a global health concern, attributed in part to longer life expectancies and increasingly sedentary work and leisure habits.

They also noted that despite the escalating burden on health systems worldwide, relatively few resources are allocated to research, prevention, and care in this area.