Have you ever suffered from the misery of back pain? If so you are not alone. Around 80% of people in the UK have experienced back pain at least once in their life and 33% have an episode at least once a year.
Lower back pain is one of the main reasons people seek expert advice from professionals and as any seasoned health professional will know, this type of issue isn’t easy to manage as it can have so many causes. That's why alleviating back pain requires a whole-body holistic approach as not every exercise, treatment or lifestyle adjustment is going to produce the same result for everyone.
When treating back pain the ‘core’, broadly considered to be the torso, is a popular area for professionals to concentrate on. Many people present with weak or inhibited musculature at the spine & abdomen so exercises that focus on the core can help alleviate pain. However the issue then becomes about compliance. It is widely reported that up to two thirds of all home-exercise recommendations are not implemented as they should be. Even the most well-developed rehabilitation plan can end up sitting in a drawer, either because the person doesn’t see the need or they can’t muster the motivation to do them as instructed (we've all been there).
The great news is regular walking has proved to be highly effective for managing long term back pain. Add in a pair of Nordic walking poles and you have an even more powerful rehab and strength building tool. Every time you place your poles in the ground and ‘push off’ you’re giving your arms, upper back, lower back, shoulders and abdominal muscles an effective workout. Nordic walking reaches around 90% of the body's skeletal muscle which makes it a well-balanced (the body loves to be symmetrical), muscle building and heart healthy exercise.
As an example the transverse abdominis muscle (TVA) is a hugely important muscle which stabilises the entire lower back and core. As you can see from the picture below the muscles act as a girdle. A weak TVA is very common nowadays due to the fact that we sit too much and have poor posture – the common culprits of lower back pain.
Using correct Nordic walking technique you will activate and work your TVA effectively on every arm swing - strengthening, tightening and literally pulling it in, which will in turn give you better posture and help alleviate back pain. Nordic walking poles literally do work magic! And as Nordic walking is enjoyable we’re more likely to continue doing it over the long term.
The power of Nordic walking is simple. It allows the body to move as it was designed to do - strengthening muscles, aligning the spine and keeping joints lubricated. The engine was built to be driven and we are no different.
Please don't think we are advising you to avoid your physio or osteopath as they are the experts, but going for a regular Nordic walk could have a powerful effect on your pain. Try to find an experienced Nordic walking instructor to teach you correct technique as there's more to it than you may expect.
Back pain can make you feel quite miserable, but in most cases it really is preventable. So find a willing friend, join a local club or put on a podcast and go Nordic walking by yourself. Movement is medicine and Nordic walking is one of the best back-strengthening and rehab tools there is.
The Bristol & Bath Nordic Walking Team
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you're looking for our advice on best walking kit here's our recommendations: