New research shows walking can stop backache from returning

Sydney, Jun 20 (IANS/DPA): If you have ever had backache, you may know the initial relief when the pain subsides, only to suffer a nasty shock when it comes back.

Those who are in the habit of taking a walk will find their back aches much less frequently, according to new medical research. And the great news is that your walk need not be especially athletic.

Scientists in Australia prescribed a walking programme for a group involving hundreds of non-athletic adults who had recovered after suffering from non-specific lower back pain.

Half undertook the exercise -- walking for at least 30 minutes, five days a week -- while the other half of the group of 701 did not. Physiotherapists helped individually tailor their walking programmes.

On average, those who followed the exercise programme had such severe low back pain again after 208 days that they had to restrict their regular activities.

But for those people in the control group, their back pain only returned and forced them to stop doing their usual activities after just 112 days.

That means those included in the walking programme had almost twice as long until their pain returned. They also experienced less pain overall, said Mark Hancock, co-author of the study led by Natasha Pocovi from Macquarie University in Sydney and published in the Lancet medical journal.

"We don't know exactly why walking is so good for preventing back pain," said Hancock. "But it's probably a combination of the gentle oscillating movements, the strain and strengthening of the spinal structures and muscles, the relaxation and stress relief and the release of feel-good endorphins."

Doctors have long been recommending that people with back pain exercise regularly and do sport.

However, not everyone has the money, time or access to exercise programmes, said Pocovi. "Walking is an inexpensive, easily accessible and simple exercise."

The researchers hope that their findings can help as many people as possible around the world, especially given that more than 600 million people worldwide suffer from lower back pain.



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