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IPFS News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

Millions Who Suffer Back Pain Can Ease Symptoms Simply by Walking More–For 'Huge Benefits'

•, By Andy Corbley

Adults with a history of lower backache went nearly twice as long without a recurrence if they walked regularly, according to the findings of the first-ever study of its kind.

Around 800 million people worldwide suffer low back pain which in 7 out of 10 people tends to be recurring, and therefore a leading cause of disability and reduced quality of life.

A clinical trial recently conducted by Macquarie University's Spinal Pain Research Group in Sydney, looked at whether walking could be an effective, cost-efficient, and accessible intervention.

The Australian researchers followed 701 adults who had recently recovered from an episode of low back pain, allocating them to either an individualized walking program and six physiotherapist-guided education sessions over six months, or to a control group.

The participants were followed for between one and three years, depending on when they joined.

Senior author Mark Hancock, Macquarie University Professor of Physiotherapy, says the findings, published in The Lancet, could have a "profound" impact on how back pain is managed globally.

"The intervention group had fewer occurrences of activity limiting pain compared to the control group, and a longer average period before they had a recurrence, with a median of 208 days compared to 112 days," said Hancock. "Walking is a low-cost, widely accessible and simple exercise that almost anyone can engage in, regardless of geographic location, age or socio-economic status."

"We don't know exactly why walking is so good for preventing back pain, but it is likely to include the combination of the gentle oscillatory movements, loading and strengthening the spinal structures and muscles, relaxation and stress relief, and release of 'feel-good' endorphins," he added.