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Running or Walking? Which Is Better for Back Pain?

By Donna Stark

The thing about low back pain is that even if it hurts to move, exercise is often the best thing for it. In fact, your doctor may have already told you to get out of bed and start moving. But how do you go about choosing the best type of physical activity when you are dealing with pain? Should you go for a run or should you stick to something a little less intense, like a walk? Running and walking are both great ways to stay fit and improve your overall health and wellness, but if pain is in the picture, one definitely outshines the other.

Running With Back Pain

When it comes to your overall well-being, you really can't go wrong with either form of exercise. Both aid in weight loss, both reduce the risk of serious health conditions, and both increase bone strength. However, because of the repetitive impact and stress, running will take a bigger toll on your back than walking will. It may also exacerbate any aches and pains you are already dealing with and could lead to even more damage down the road.

Walking With Back Pain

Walking, on the other hand, is a low-impact exercise. It's typically the go-to workout that doctors recommend when their patients are dealing with low back pain. Walking helps to increase circulation, release muscle tension, and strengthen your core (which supports the spine). Walking also helps to improve range of motion and increase flexibility which will help reduce the risk of future pain and injury. But before you start, make sure it is OK by your doctor to do so. 

Your New Fitness Routine

Once you have your doctor's approval, try to schedule a 30-minute brisk walk into your routine every day. If 30 minutes is too much, break it down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute walks. Just make it work so you can get started on the healing process! Here are some suggestions to help you begin.

  • Stretch and warm up for at least five minutes before you start walking
  • Choose a pace that is comfortable, yet brisk
  • Stay close to your starting point until you can build up strength and endurance
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that offer plenty of support
  • Bring water along with you

Exercising With Low Back Pain

The best choice of exercise you should make is the one that won't exacerbate or worsen your pain, and as we all know now, that choice should be walking! So go ahead and get your doctor's Ok, then lace up your shoes and get moving! You are sure to be feeling better in no time!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Charleston, S.C.

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