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Ease Lower-Back Pain with This Step

Ease Lower-Back Pain with This Step

There might be a simple approach for treating lower-back pain, but you'll need a spotter. It's backward walking.

In a small study of college athletes, the participants who engaged in backward walking for several weeks experienced a significant reduction in their lower-back pain.

Walking This Way
During the 3-week study, all participants -- both those with back pain and those without -- walked backward on a treadmill for 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week, at whatever pace they felt comfortable. And at the study's conclusion, all the people with lower-back pain reported a significant decrease in pain, as well as better range of motion. What's more, most of the lower-back pain group also showed a reduction in shock attenuation -- a measurement that shows the body impact of the foot striking the ground.

Safety First
Researchers think that backward walking may baby the back because it requires that the toe contact the ground first, rather than the heel -- which may have beneficial effects on pelvis alignment and help alleviate the disc pressure associated with lower-back pain. But don't just hop on a treadmill and wing it. The study participants practiced for several weeks before the 3-week study intervention. And they were supervised. Plus, they were athletes -- so assume balance was one of their strong suits. If you have any balance issues at all -- or are at risk for falling or breaking a bone -- it's probably not for you. But here are some other ways to get relief.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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