Increased Walking Time Found to Lower Risk of Low Back Pain

Hey There! Today’s post will look at reducing your risk of Low Back Pain (LBP), one of the most common conditions worldwide. Some researchers have found the average lifetime prevalence of LBP to be upwards of 38.9% and “most prevalent among females and persons ages 40–80 years” (1). While other researchers report that upwards of 80% of Americans will “experience at least one episode of back pain during a lifetime" (2).

Nonetheless, the prevalence is high, while the cost and burden is also significant. However, results of a recent study have found an association between walking and LBP. Researchers discovered that in a general population over 50 years old, “walking for more than 3 days per week for over 30 min at a time was negatively associated with LBP” and “similarly, walking for more than 5 days per week for over 1 h at a time was [also] negatively associated with LBP” (3).

it is also important to note that low back pain and pain in general is multifactorial and the sensation of pain extends far greater than an actual physical injury. Factors such as stress, anxiety, fear, poor sleep habits, and physical inactivity can all contribute to the presence of pain. Now if you find that walking doesn’t help, don’t worry, other forms of physical activity or exercise should still be your first line of defense. Most episodes of acute LBP have actually been found to resolve on there own, just keep moving and don’t limit your activity.

Though, if you still find your LBP has not resolved, seeing a Physical Therapist FIRST has proven time and time again to be the most appropriate path of care. Findings from a most recent study found “that seeing a PT First for a LBP episode significantly lowered the probability of having an opioid prescription, advanced imaging service, and ED visits compared to patients that did not” (4), which are similar in findings to many other studies (5,6).

Until next time,

Fuel Physio Team

  1. Hoy, D., Bain, C., Williams, G., et al. (2012). A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism64(6), 2028-2037.

  2. Rubin, D. I. (2007). Epidemiology and risk factors for spine pain. Neurologic clinics25(2), 353-371.

  3. Park, S. M., Kim, G. U., Kim, H. J., et al. (2018). Walking more than 90 minutes/week was associated with a lower risk of self-reported low back pain in persons over 50 years of age: A cross-sectional study using the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The Spine Journal.

  4. Frogner, B. K., Harwood, K., Andrilla, C. H. A., et al. (2018). Physical Therapy as the First Point of Care to Treat Low Back Pain: An Instrumental Variables Approach to Estimate Impact on Opioid Prescription, Health Care Utilization, and Costs. Health services research.

  5. Childs, J. D., J. M. Fritz, S. S. Wu, T. W. Flynn, R. S. Wainner, E. K. Robertson, F. S. Kim, and S. Z. George. 2015. “Implications of Early and Guideline Adherent Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain on Utilization and Costs.” BMC Health Ser- vices Research 15: 150–160.

  6. Fritz, J. M., G. P. Brennan, and S. J. Hunter. 2015. “Physical Therapy or Advanced Imaging as First Management Strategy Following a New Consultation for Low Back Pain in Primary Care: Associations with Future Health Care Utilization and Charges.” Health Services Research 50 (6): 1927–1940.

Every Healthy Pregnancy Should Include Visiting a Physical Therapist

     As awareness continues to build on the benefits of seeing a physical therapist for low back pain, it should not be forgotten that physical therapists can help with numerous other conditions. One of those conditions being a very natural phenomenon, pregnancy. Even with pregnancy rates on a decline, the latest study shows “98.7 per 1,000 women aged 15-44” are becoming pregnant(1). That remains to be a large number of women that may experience the following symptoms during or after their pregnancy(2): 

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•    Low back pain
•    Pelvic girdle pain
•    Weight gain
•    Gestational diabetes
•    Urinary incontinence (uncontrolled bladder)
•    Preeclampsia
•    Leg Edema (swelling)
•    Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)
•    Depression
•    Morning sickness
•    Fatigue
•    .... The list goes on


     The purpose of physical therapy intervention is to prevent or reduce the occurrence of these symptoms. A systematic review performed by Kampen et al. found physical therapy intervention to be effective in the treatment and prevention of pregnancy symptoms(2). The results indicated that the skills of a physical therapist can accurately address the following(2):

  • low back/ pelvic girdle pain
  • weight gain beyond recommendations
  • urinary incontinence 

     These symptoms can be addressed with targeted exercises, such as Kegels for urinary incontinence. The guidance of a physical therapist should be sought to ensure proper performance of these particular activities and receive adequate education about safe movements. 

     Also, don’t forget that nutritional intake is crucial during pregnancy, for both mother and child. Seek the help of a registered dietitian for nutritional meal planning. 

- Patrick Berner, SPT

1. Fox M. U.S. Pregnancy rate hits record low, data shows. NBC NEWS. December 11, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/u-s-pregnancy-rate-hits-record-low-data-shows-n478381. Accessed February 4, 2016.

2. Van Kampen M, Devoogdt N, De Groef A, Gielen A, Geraerts I. The efficacy of physiotherapy for the prevention and treatment of prenatal symptoms: a systematic review. International Urogynecology Journal. 2015;(11):1575.