Have you ever suffered from the misery that is back pain? If yes you are joined by 80% of people in the UK who have experienced back pain at least once in their life. If you're unluckier you're among the one third of the population who have an 'episode' at least once every 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 always 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.
The ‘core’ (broadly considered to be the torso) is a popular area for professionals to concentrate on after you've hobbled in with your dodgy back. Exercises that focus on the core are effective as people with lower back pain often present with weak or inhibited musculature at the spine & abdomen. However the issue then becomes compliance.
It is widely reported that between one and two thirds of all home-exercise recommendations are not implemented. 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 just can’t muster the motivation to complete them day after day. If that rings a bell don’t despair as there is another way forward..
According to numerous studies walking has proved to be a highly effective intervention 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 exercise. 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.
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 pain. Nordic walking poles literally do work magic! And as for most of us Nordic walking is more enjoyable than daily back exercises, 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.
We are not advising you to avoid your physio or osteopath! Professionals have in depth knowledge, are experts at working on specific areas of the body and for some issues the main problem may be flexibility. But as an addition to your treatment going for a regular Nordic walk may make a huge impact due to its total body approach and long-term compliance.
So don’t miss your opportunity to enjoy and move your body whilst you still can. General movement is as important to maintain as exercise, and Nordic walking gives you both.
Back exercise is for life, not just when you’re feeling sore, so find a friend, join a local club or go Nordic walking by yourself. Be proactive for prevention rather than reactive due to pain. Movement is medicine and we believe Nordic walking is the best drug around.
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: