Walking Back to Health
by Bill Morrison
    to achieve this you must walk every day.

  • Walking increases blood flow and raises oxygen levels in the body. This in turn
    stimulates the immune system and helps repair tissue damage.

  • Walking burns off calories.

  • Walking minimises your risk of bowel cancer (according to a report by the US
    Surgeon General).

  • Walking makes you feel better and helps reduce stress that is part of our
    modern daily life.

  • Walking has long been prescribed by doctors and chiropractors for people with
    low back pain.

These are just some of the benefits of regular walking and apart from the cost of a
good pair of shoes – it’s free!

If you suffer from low back problems you should consider including walking as part of
your regular daily exercise routine. If your neighbourhood is one where you don’t feel
comfortable walking then think about joining a gym and get on the treadmill with your
IPOD or MP3 player.

A recent study by UCLA researchers found that a group of low back pain patients who
did 3 hours brisk walking per week had considerably less pain and distress than a
group who were given specific low back exercises.

Before you grab your walking shoes and rush outside there are a few points to
consider if you want to reap the maximum benefit from your walking.

The first is stretching. Always do a few gentle stretches before and after your walk –
find out from your healthcare practitioner what stretches are the most suitable for
yourself.

The muscles should always be warm before stretching, and the stretch should always
be gentle. Current research indicates that the stretch should be held for at least 30
seconds to be fully effective. Always ensure that your breathing is relaxed and
rhythmic – holding your breath will make any stretch ineffective. It is also important to
stretch on both sides to maintain symmetry. As a general rule do warm up stretching
exercises starting at the top of your body and work downward.

Here are some examples of suitable stretches for walking. Please note that
these are for illustrative purposes only. You should consult a dedicated book or
worksheet before doing these stretches.

  • HEAD ROLLS - rotate your head around so you end up with your ear near your
    shoulder then go the other way. Repeat this several times, and then do some
    arm circles.

  • HIP STRETCH - hold on to a chair and bend your right knee, keep your spine
    straight and upright. Lean forward slightly and keep the left leg straight. Hold for
    30 seconds. Switch sides.

  • LEG STRETCH - stand erect and hold onto a wall or a chair for support. Now
    bend one knee behind you so that you can grasp your foot. Hold your foot
    against your bottom and gently push your knee gently back as far as you can.

    Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with the opposite leg.

  • CALF STRETCH – keep your spine straight and push lightly against a wall with
    open palms. Place one leg forward with knee bent - this leg will have no weight
    put on it. Keep other leg back and straight with and heel down. Gently move
    your hips toward the wall until you feel a stretch. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat with
    other leg.

  • HAMSTRING STRETCH – place your foot on a bench or chair with your toe
    pointing upwards. You should be standing far enough away such that your leg is
    straight. Bend forward slightly from the waist keeping one hand on the raised leg
    so that you feel your hamstring stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with
    the other leg.

Secondly is posture. There is no point in walking if your posture is all wrong. Before
you set out try this simple check. Stand with your back against a closed door. Try to
align your shoulders against the door. Now try touching the door with the back of
your head, your buttocks and your heels at the same time. If you can manage this
then your body is in the correct alignment.

Try taking your first few steps with your head held high, looking straight ahead. Keep
those tummy muscles pulled in. Try to avoid leaning forward when you walk. Don’t
worry if you find walking like this a bit strange at first concentrate initially on holding
your head high looking straight ahead after a few days you will find your are starting
to walk more upright

Thirdly and equally important is footwear. If you suffer from lower back problems
consider investing in a good pair of walking shoes or boots. You should wear
comfortable, low-heeled shoes that provide good arch support. The best shoe for one
person may not necessarily be the most suitable for another. It may even pay
dividends to visit a podiatrist to see if it would be to your advantage to have heel
inserts.

If you are new to walking start off gently, do not overdo it for the first few sessions.
Gradually build up to walking at least 30 minutes each day – this is believed to be
sufficient to decrease your risk of heart disease. If you can build it up to an hour per
day it is believed you will decrease your risk of breast cancer and type two diabetes.

The information in this article should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any
disease. You should always consult with your health care professional as to the
suitabilty of walking or any exercises described in this article and especially for health
matters that may require diagnosis or medical attention.


About The Author

Bill Morrison has his own website http://www.help4urback.com where he describes
his own personal experiences coping with lower back pain and sciatica. He also
includes personal recommendations for people who suffer from sciatica or lower back
pain including what books to buy, TENs machines, and what web sites to check out.
Few people would think of
walking as cure for many of the
ailments we all accept as part of
our modern lifestyle but it is now
recognised as one of the best
exercises you can do at any age.

  • Walking helps regulate the
    heart.

  • Walking, it is believed, can
    boost the immune system
    causing the body to
    produce killer cells which will
    destroy any germ cells they
    do not recognise. However
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