If you experience lower back pain after walking, you are not alone. In fact, most people will experience this ailment at some point in their lives.
Some degree of pain is ok, as it is likely just muscle soreness from a long hard walk. However, if the pain is severe, persistent, or is accompanied by other symptoms, there may be a more serious underlying issue.
We’ll cover all the reasons you get lower back pain after walking, and then, we’ll help you start walking pain free.
Why do I get lower back pain after walking?
Lower back pain after walking can be caused by the walking itself, especially if you aren’t used to walking long distances.
While you may not know it, your core and lower back have to work hard to stabilize your spine. When you walk, or even simply stand, your core and spinal erectors turn on to keep you upright.
So, you can imagine how this may lead to slight muscle soreness if you walk a mile or two, perhaps for a walkathon or just exploring your city.
But, sometimes, you may experience pain in your lower back after walking due to something more serious. Then are quite a few spinal conditions that can cause this type of pain that gets aggravated from standing or walking. Here are some of the most common.
Hyperlordosis is an issue in your posture, where you have an exaggerated inwardly curved spine in your lower back.
This leads to excess posterior tilt, which is a medical term to describe a scenario where your butt sticks out and your stomach extends downward/forward. Over time, it can cause severe pain in the lower back, especially after walking.
Hyperlordosis can be caused by a lot of things, such as obesity, spinal injury, neuromuscular diseases, and more. But, most often it is simply the case of poor posture compounded with a weak core.
The good news is you usually don’t need special treatment for this issue. There are regimens you can follow to improve your posture that include massage, stretching, and exercises to strengthen the core.
Degenerative disc disease
Another common culprit for pain in the lower back following a walk is degenerative disc disease. This is far more common in the elderly, as degeneration of the spine is an unfortunate reality of aging.
Those who suffer from this condition will have vertebrae on vertebrae contact due to the discs that separate them wearing down, until nothing is left. This bone on bone contact breaks down your back even further, and causes substantial pain in the lower back. This pain becomes exacerbated from movement.
Unfortunately, not much can be done to prevent this disease, as it is extremely prevalent in the elderly community. But, your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to manage the pain, and improve your condition through exercise, NSAIDs, and sometimes, physical therapy or chiropractic care.
Sciatica is a painful condition caused by the sciatic nerve, which commonly gets impinged by something in the lower back. In fact, it is often caused by a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, which we just covered.
This particular type of pain is radiating, and can send shooting pain down one or both legs. Most people dealing with sciatica always experience painful flareups after walking, or even simply standing for long periods of time.
Tight piriformis or psoas
Lower back pain can also be caused by tight muscles on the front of your body, as they pull your lower back in towards them in spasm.
The piriformis is one of three muscles that connects your leg to your spine. When it becomes ultra tense, it can press on your sciatic nerve, which causes severe lower back pain. As you know now, sciatica flares up hard after walking or standing for an extended duration.
Likewise, the psoas muscle runs alongside your core above your hips. It is notorious for becoming really tight, which leads to compression on the lower spine.
To alleviate these issues, your best bet is to see a physical therapist or massage therapist. A combination of deep tissue work and stretching will release these two pesky muscles, and have you walking pain free again soon.
How do I stop my lower back from hurting when I walk?
While some of these conditions require a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor, there are a few things you can start doing now to feel better and get back to your daily walks, pain-free.
You just need to change the way you walk. This means taking inventory of your posture, your footwear, the terrain you walk on, your rhythm.
Proper walking mechanics/protocol
If you don’t have excellent walking mechanics and posture, you are inevitably going to experience pain in your lower back after walking.
Make sure you are evenly distributing your weight in your feet, staying upright, and strike the ground with your heel first. Proper walking mechanics could be an entire article on it’s own, so do your research!
It’s also important to consider your shoes. Poor posture starts in your feet, and is often caused by terrible shoes with no support, which collapse your arches. When your arches collapse, your knees, hips and back will experience pain.
Find a great pair of walking shoes and invest in yourself! Otherwise, your lower back will pay for it.
You should also stick to a flat, soft or grassy walking terrain. Sticking to the track or a treadmill is your best option, as these absorb a lot of impact from walking. Avoid hills, or uneven surfaces, as this will make your core and spine work overdrive, which you’ll certainly feel the next day.