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.

Physical Activity Guidelines & Walking Pace

Hey there! And welcome to a long overdue blog post from the Fuel Physio Team. We'll be honest in saying that most of our efforts in writing have gone towards Wellfie Wednesday Tips. If you haven't seen those or know what they are, check them out!

Lets talk physical activity guidelines and how the aerobic component can be obtained with just simply walking throughout the week. No gym equipment necessary! So the recommended amount for sustained health benefits are as follows, and these can be found in greater detail here

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
  • 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
  • The guidelines also emphasize muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or high intensity, involving all major muscle groups, for 2 or more days a week

Now that we know our recommended time to reap all the amazing benefits of physical activity, how can we achieve the recommended intensity? Well, lets look at moderate-intensity. The guidelines do actually mention "brisk walking" as an example. But exactly is "brisk walking?" There was an article published earlier this year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at just that. They determined that an absolute threshold of moderate-intensity occurs with a walking pace or cadence of >100 steps/min. However, know that even at a slower cadence, health benefits can still be had.

This link from the CDC provides other examples of obtaining moderate or vigorous intensities. Including mention of the "talk test." Where during an activity if you unable to speak a few words without pausing for a breath, your activity is most likely of vigorous-intensity.

Until next time,

Fuel Physio Team