If you’ve been reading our blog regularly, you know that we strongly encourage patients to keep moving and get some moderate exercises, and that walking is one of the exercises that we recommend most frequently as a remedy for back and neck pain. Still, there are times when even doing the right thing can lead to the wrong outcome.
Whether you’ve been walking to keep active during the pandemic or to head off aches and pains, you need to pay attention to certain elements of your walk, especially if you’re finding yourself waking up the next morning hurting.
Here are a few of the most important things for you to pay attention to:
We talk about posture a lot, and most people think that good posture is something that only applies to sitting or standing, but it is also very important when you are walking. Poor posture during exercise leads to an uneven distribution of your body weight, and that adds extra stress to your back and the muscles that support your spine.
Make sure that your head is up and you’re looking straight ahead. Don’t slouch your shoulders, and make sure that you are using a light arm swing to help carry you forward. Letting your arms hang limply down can increase a lower backache, so focus on swinging them in time with the opposite leg, achieving a 90-degree angle to the body. Do not carry a purse or bag on your walk unless it is a backpack that evenly distributes the weight.
If you’re having a hard time keeping upright while walking, it may be a good idea to add some abdominal strengthening exercises to your daily routine. Though most people think that walking is powered by their legs, it is actually the core that helps to support your posture and keeps you in the correct position.
When you’re walking, you want to do so with a rhythm and pace that is comfortable. Your stride should not involve reaching out with your leg or turning your body from side to side. Likewise, don’t make your steps so small that it throws you off balance or puts you on your toes.
Wearing appropriate footwear is important to every activity, so don’t be fooled into thinking that walking is so easy that it is an exception. You need to wear athletic shoes that provide adequate cushioning and support as well as traction to reduce the chance of falling. Make sure that they fit well to avoid blistering and tripping, and double check to make sure that your laces are tied.
If you’re walking around your neighborhood, make sure that the sidewalks are clear of debris and watch out for cracks and uneven spots on the pavement. Dirt paths, boardwalks, or hard-packed sand will be easier on your joints, but you need to watch out for tree roots, rocks, puddles and mud.
If walking isn’t helping or is adding to your discomfort, it may be time to reach out to our New Jersey spine specialty practice. Contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.