A healthy individual doesn't usually give walking a second thought – it's something we do to get from point A to point B, right?
But when you start experiencing lower back pain while walking, it suddenly stops being just a regular part of your day, and you find yourself wondering:
What's going on?
The same goes for those of you that encounter lower back pain after walking. The good news is you're not alone – we've all been there at some point.
I dedicate today's article to answering all the whys of lower back pain, so keep on reading!
Lower Back Pain While Walking: What’s Causing It?
Walking seems like a simple enough activity. Biomechanically speaking, though, a lot is going on in our bodies that allows us to perform these motions. The problem is all these motions, both those that go from the top down, as well as those that move from the bottom up, meet at one point of your body.
Yes, you guessed that right – your lower back.
The first step to figuring out how to deal with lower back pain is to determine what's causing it, which is why I'm dedicating this entire section to the most common reasons for lower back pain while walking.
Here they are:
1. Stenosis Or Arthritis
The thing we all need to remember about our bodies is that they age, and as the years go by, the daily wear and tear start building up to a point where it turns into a degenerative spine condition. Out of all these conditions, two stand out as leading causes for lower back pain while walking: arthritis, and as a result of it, spinal stenosis.
One important thing to point out here is that it's possible to experience lower back pain while standing, too. If you noticed that lately both walking and standing have been causing you pain, but it goes away almost instantly as you sit down, it's entirely possible that the reason behind it is one of these conditions – or both.
2. Limited Hip Mobility
As we walk, our entire pelvis, hips included, move along in three planes, so that our spine doesn't have to – at least that's true for those people whose joints don't have a limited range of motion.
But what if you're the unlucky one, and have limited hip mobility?
The rest of your body (well, mostly your spine) will work harder to compensate for those shortcomings, of course. And since your lower back is the place where your nerve exits your spine and travels down your legs, increased movements in this area result in compression of that nerve, which you already recognized as lower back pain while walking.
3. Stiffness In Your Upper Back
Have you ever taken a moment to think about all the different motions your body goes through as you take each step - for example, the way your arms swing as you walk? I know it may sound like utter nonsense right now, but I promise there's a point – and a good one, too – behind that question.
So, as I was saying, as we walk, we swing our arms, and it's these movements that cause rotation in our upper back. And while this is entirely normal, the problem arises if your upper back is stiff and has a limited range of movements, because the lower back takes on some of that rotation, instead.
That leads to irritation of the nerves and joints, or, as you would put it, lower back pain while walking. If you think this might be true in your case, some back stretches for upper back pain could work wonders for you.
The equation is rather simple:
More weight equals more stress put on your body (your lower back included). With that in mind, it's no wonder that you experience lower back pain when standing too long – your body has to carry a lot of excess weight around, which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your spine.
If you're not quite sure if that might be what's causing your lower back pain while walking, take a moment to determine your body mass index – if math was never your thing, feel free to use a BMI calculator, instead.
Lower Back Pain After Walking: What Can You Do To Prevent It?
As I said previously, no one gives walking a second thought until an uncomfortable lower back pain becomes a part of the activity. I've been there myself, so I know how limiting it can be, especially if you're a very active person.
What can you do to combat lower back pain after walking, though?
The first thing I did, and you should, too, is to get a pair of the best walking shoes for lower back pain. You'd be surprised what high-quality, specialized footwear could do for your back. That's not the only possible solution to the problem, though – there are some other things you should try, as well:
1. Work On Strengthening Your Muscles
One of the best things you could do if you're experiencing lower back pain after standing or walking for some time is to exercise – all those muscles that help support your back need to be in their top shape if you want to reduce the pain naturally.
It's important not to over-do it, though. Start with short intervals and minimal intensity, and slowly work your way up from there.
Some soreness is completely normal, but your exercise routine should never worsen your lower back pain – its aim is to provide relief.
Here's a list of some of my favorite exercises suitable for those of you that experience lower back pain after walking:
- Leg and arm lifts
- Holding a bridge pose
- Waist bends
- Back extensions
2. Remember To Stretch
Besides keeping your muscles strong, it’s extremely important to keep them flexible, as well – tight muscles will only pull on your back, which results in lower back pain after walking. Now, here’s the best thing about it:
It’s best to perform stretches after walking, while your muscles are still warm.
Here are some very helpful stretches you should try if you keep having lower back pain after walking:
- Knee Hug Stretch – Start by lying on your back, with your feet flat on the ground; your knees should be bent, and your hands should rest behind them comfortably. The goal is to bring your knees to your chest (use your hands to pull them in) and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Reclined Spinal Twists – When you’re dealing with lower back pain after walking, stretching your lower back, as well as your glutes, is an imperative, which is why reclined spinal twist is one of my favorite stretches to help loosen things up a bit.
Again, start on your back, knees bent and both feet on the ground; your arms should extend in a „T" formation. From there, drop both your knees all the way to the side (remember to keep them together), but make sure your shoulders are still on the ground. You should hold the position for 30 seconds before you repeat it on the other side.
- Reclined Hamstring Stretch – Another great way to keep your muscles flexible and work on improving your lower back pain after walking are hamstring stretches. Lay on your back, but this time, keep both of your legs straight on the ground.
Bring one leg up as high as you can, and hold your thigh to pull your entire leg closer to your head; after about 30 seconds, switch to your other leg.
- Child’s Pose – Any list of stretches wouldn’t be complete without at least one yoga position on it, right? So, another great way to combat lower back pain after walking is the famous child’s pose:
Start with your hands and knees on the ground (make sure they're aligned up with your shoulders and hips), then proceed to extend your arms in front of you and place your palms on the floor; your entire chest should follow. At the same time, lower your hips towards your heels, as if you're going to sit on them.
Hold the position for as long as you feel comfortable, but aim for at least 30 seconds.
- Cat And Cow Stretch – Here's another excellent yoga position for lower back pain after walking:
It starts pretty much the same way as the previous one – on your hands and knees – but it's a bit more dynamic. From there, round your spine as if it were reaching toward the ceiling. Hold the position for about 5 seconds, before you relax and start lowering your stomach as if you were approaching the roof with your chest and tailbone.
That's what counts as a single repetition, so continue doing this for at least 30 seconds.
Lower Back Pain While Walking: Final Thoughts On The Issue
I've managed to cover everything from causes of lower back pain while walking, to possible solutions to your problems, don't you think?
What I'd like you to take away from all this is that our bodies are, indeed, outstandingly intricate biomechanisms where all the parts work together in perfect harmony with every step you take. But what happens when they don't?
Other parts have to work overtime to fix that – and that's how you end up with lower back pain after walking. The ultimate goal, then, is to keep your body a well-oiled machine – it's not that hard, I promise!
Did you find this article to be helpful? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!