Walking is a great exercise. It can be as gentle or brisk as you want. It can be by yourself or in a group. There are no fast rules when it comes to walking.
Can you walk if you have back pain? Can you walk if you have knee pain? The answer is yes you can walk with with both back pain and knee pain. You just have to consider a few things before doing so such as knowing what your limitations are, steps you can take to ease pain and doing a little stretching to make walking a little bit easier for you.
Walking with lower back pain
While walking itself doesn’t cause lower-back pain, the movement may cause an existing problem to become worse. Only you know what issues you have with your lower back be that arthritis or inflammation. However, don’t let that you off walking. With a little know how you can still walk with lower back pain.
Benefits of walking with lower back pain
You really should consider walking as a way of helping with your lower back pain for the following reasons:
- Walking strengthens your muscles – walking strengthens your feet, your legs, your hips and your torso as well as actively stabilising your spine and keeping your body in an upright position to help your back muscles.
- Walking helps to nourish your spine – walking helps your spine by moving nutrients to your spine tissue, it also helps get rid of horrible toxins too.
- Walking improves your posture– walking helps with your posture as your muscles strengthen and can help prevent injury.
- Walking improves your flexibility and range of movement – walking along with stretching can help ease aches and pains from sitting too much and it also helps your range of movement too.
Tips for walking with lower back pain
After I hurt my lower back from trying the coach to 5k running app, I opted for walking instead. What I found helpful when walking with lower back pain was to do the following:
- Walking with your back straight: walk as tall and as straight as you can and try not to arch your back.
- Try not to lean forward or back: leaning can put a strain on your muscles especially in your back. Try not to lean forward when walking.
- Keep your eyes forward: try to keep your phone away when walking as eyes done can cause you pain. Try and look about 20 feet ahead.
- Chin should be up: again try and keep your chin parallel to the ground as this reduces any strain on your neck and your back.
- Shoulders should be back and relaxed: the easiest way to get your shoulders relaxed is to shrug a few times and then relax. Your shoulders will loosen up. It’s great for any tension that you may be holding there too!
- Suck in your tummy: this helps to strengthen your core muscles as good core muscles help with good posture and good walking posture. It does take some getting used to but so worth it.
- Pull in your bum and rotate your his forward slightly: now this does take a little practice but so worth it as it helps ensure you don’t arch your back.
- Think heel to toe: your walking technique is so important so having a good foot strike will ensure you are walking comfortably. Land on your heel, roll forward on to the ball of your foot then raise the heel and push off with your big toe. Try to walk lightly as if you were walking on ice rather than thumping strides. This will make you feel so much more comfortable walking.
The suggestions above will help with good walking posture and help relieve any lower back pain you are experiencing. It is so easy to lean forward when walking and looking down. If you can start with the first few points and work up to the others it will help correct your walking posture. Hopefully this will help you with any lower back pain you have or indeed prevent it from happening in the first place.
Walking with knee pain
You will probably think me an old crock! I did suffer knee problems before. I could never do exercises that required me to sit on my knees. I’ve no idea why to be honest. While bad knees can be a challenge for walking, doctors do recommend walking as a way of reducing knee problems and maintaining and making the bones stronger.
One way of doing this is a regular walking program which can help reduce any stiffness you are feeling in your knees. It is also great for reducing inflammation too. Indeed many people with osteoarthritis and arthritis use walking in their daily routine to help improve their systems and quality of life.
Why you really should walk if you have knee problems
As I’ve said in my post on the benefits of walking it is a great way to make your bones stronger. You see your knee is composed of both bone and cartilage. Cartilage needs fluid and nutrition to stay healthy so moving your knees is a great way of ensuring your cartilage gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Before I started to walk, my knees and other joints were so stiff from sitting down all day. When I did get up I was stiff and sore. That was due to inactivity. Once I started to move and walk on a regular basis my bones, joints and cartilage doesn’t give me any trouble whatsoever now. Thank goodness because I felt so old each time I would get up out of a chair!
Walking on a regular basis also builds muscle – I’m not talking weight lifter type bulging muscle – the muscle you need to support yourself and this goes for the knees too. Walking on a regular basis helps to build that muscle and maintain bone health too.
Tips for walking with knee pain
As mentioned above walking helps to keep mobile and allows for joint fluid to get to your knee joints. Of course with all walking take it easy when you begin. Why not try a shorter route the fist time you go out and start to increase it as you get to the point where you feel you could do more. It is also recommended that you do stretching before walking but especially if you have knee pain.
Below I have listed some ways to strengthen your knees, if you do these on a regular basis you should feel the benefit:
- Lifting your legs: lying on your back raise one of your legs and bend it with the foot flat on the floor, take the other leg and raise it keeping it straight but don’t lock your knee. Repeat 8 times for each leg. This will help with your quadriceps and your hip flexors.
- Stand with your back to a wall with feet shoulder width apart, slowly lower yourself as if sitting. This type of squat will help your hamstrings, glute muscles, core muscles and your quadriceps. You can do this about 12 times. I would do it slowly though rather than rushing through it.
- Lie flat on your back with knees bent, arms by your sides palms up, slowly lift your body up off the floor – hips should be raised too. You can squeeze your bum cheeks at the top before slowly going back down. A great exercise for your glutes, core muscles, your tummy and lower back muscles. Again try this about 8 times. You can increase it by holding for a count of 20 when you are squeezing your bum at the top before lowering.
- Calf Raise: Hold on to a chair or counter top and lift your leg so you are on the ball of your foot. This exercise is to increase your ankle stability which helps with knee alignment and also helps you to stay balanced. Do this slowly for about 10 and then change to the other leg.
- Hip flexors: You can on your side (make sure your shoulders are in alignment with your hips), use a tea towel to help you pull your foot towards your bum so you can feel a stretch. Repeat this on each side 3 times.
How stretching helps you with back pain and knee pain walking
It is highly recommended that we all stretch before exercise and walking is no exception. Stretching is a great way to get your body ready for walking. It also helps prevent injury and can help reduce soreness from walking when you come back.
Stretching is another great way of helping if you suffer from lower back pain and knee pain. That’s not the only reason for stretching though, being able to put your joint through the full range of motion will help your day to day movement. It also helps to elongate the muscle. In fact, stretching should be done even if you don’t plan to do any walking as it will help all your muscle groups and keep you limber.
A word about chin splints
I wanted to tell you a little a little bit about chin splints before signing off. Chin splints are a stiffness or soreness in your shins when you walk. Let’s face it your shins have to take your weight when you exercise. Walking (and indeed running) can cause inflammation in the tissue and muscles around your chins.
I would recommend taking it slowly when you first start walking. Don’t go too long or too fast. Also try and limit the amount of hills you include in your walking schedule as these can aggravate your chins too. If you adhere to a sensible walking schedule you will be fine and any pain you have in your chins will dissipate quickly.
I do hope these hints and tips will help you on your walking journey and having back pain or knee pain won’t put you off.