A recent research study on chronic low back pain sought to find if walking was more effective than other types of exercise for improving pain, disability, quality of life, and beliefs in patients with chronic low back pain. To do this they searched for results from previous randomized controlled trials, which are considered to be one highest levels of research. What they found was not surprising...both walking and other exercise were good at improving chronic low back pain, disability, and quality of life. One was not more effective than the other, and adding one to the other did not improve the results. This study echos the results of other studies (1, 2, 3) showing that no one type of exercise is better than others with regards to low back pain.
So what's the take home-point?
The specific type of exercise (or other form of physical activity) isn't that important. What is important is that you JUST MOVE. For someone who has not exercised in a long time, "physical activity" may mean taking a trip to the grocery store and walking instead of using an electric cart. "Exercise" has come to be a term associated with sweating, pain, and exhaustion...a necessary evil to being healthy. But exercise should be enjoyable. The BEST type of exercise is the one you'll do, and if you enjoy something, you're more likely to actually do it. Chopping wood, cleaning the house, cutting the grass with a push mower, gardening, or riding bikes or playing basketball with your kids are all good forms of physical activity.
So if you're having back pain, stop reading this post, get up from the computer, put away the smart phone, and JUST MOVE. Don't overdo it...but finding ways to spend more time moving each day will have big payoffs for your back, your heart, your sleep, and your happiness.
Exercise is an essential component of recovery from low back pain, but sometimes just being active isn't enough. Movement 4 Life Physical Therapy offers other services such as spinal manipulation, trigger point therapy, dry needling, education, and posture and movement pattern awareness to help improve your pain more quickly. Contact us to find out more.
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