Does Backward Walking Help Low Back Pain?

8 Feb

Between forward and backward running, what is the best for lumbar spine?

English: Drawing of a disc herniation in the h...

Image via Wikipedia

If you experimented an acute low back pain like I did (see my post entitled Christmas sciatica), when pain is lowering it would be profitable for your rehab if you could practise backward walking in your apartment. Caveat, this exercise must absolutely not increase or provoke any pain! Backward walking or backward running is a traditional remedy practiced by Japanese people. It’s simple, without risk if done in your own apartment (not outside, not to mention backward running on the road!). For the moment I practices two sort of exercise: back ward walking around my dinner room table and stretching my back with palms and toes on the carpet facing the soil, my trunk being the most horizontal as possible (no flexion nor extension, particularly of the lumbar segment). Rather astonishingly, I noticed that back pain rapidly reappear each time I walk for a while in the normal way (front ward), and does not at all manifest when I walk backward during the same amount of time. So intending not to lose my muscular mass in my lower legs I decided to walk back-ward from now on in my apartment. I only hope that my neighbours would not call the psychiatric emergencies if they could see me turning around my table back-ward 😉 And remember, walking backward avoid the shock of your heel directly on the ground by, instead, putting your toes first which act far more as shock absorbers. So if you really suffer of back pain, never mind what your neighbours would think provided that your pain be relieved and as long you can say farewell to those damned addictive painkillers!

As JANET DUFEK, ANTHONY HOUSE, BRENT MANGUS, GEOFFREY MELCHER and JOHN MERCER of the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, University of Nevada,  Las Vegas, NV,USA, the University of Pittsburg, Human Performance Research Center, Fort Campbell, KY, USA and the Texas A&M, Commerce, TX, USA wrote:

“During backward walking, hip extension and knee flexion are greater than in forward walking(22). Greater hip extension and a concomitant extension of the lumbar spine increasingly load the facet joints opening up the disc space, causing a reduction in compressive loads to the intervertebral discs (9)….unloading of the discs via increased hip-joint extension” [1].

Caution: the text here above can not stand for a medical advice, consult first your practitioner to obtain an accurate diagnose first. The rehab is not the same if  you suffer from facet joins arthritis instead of inter vertebral disk hernia.

Works consulted:

  1. Dufek JS, House AJ, Mangus BC, Melcher GG, Mercer JA. Backward Walking: A Possible Active Exercise for Low Back Pain Reduction and Enhanced Function in Athletes. JEPonline 2011;14(1):17-26.
  1. Masumoto K, Takasugi S, Hotta N, Fugishima K, Iwamoto Y. A comparison of muscle activity and heart rate response during backward and forward walking on an underwater treadmill. Gait Posture 2007;25:222-228
  1. Scannell JP, McGill SM. Disc prolapse: Evidence of reversal with repeated extension. Spine 2009;34:344-350.
  1. Bates BT, Morrison E, Hamill J. A comparison between forward and backward running. In: M. Adrian (ed.),1984 Olympic Scientific Congress Proceedings: Biomechanics (pp. 127-135),Eugene:  Mircroform Publications, 1986.
  1. Gordon SJ, Yang KH, Mayer PJ, Mace AH, Kish VL, Radin EL. Mechanism of disc rupture: A preliminary report. Spine 1991;16:450-456.

2 Responses to “Does Backward Walking Help Low Back Pain?”

  1. February 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

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  2. ivan fedyaev June 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Dear Doctor
    I am looking for collaborator, please help me find one or be the one.
    My device to treat low back pain (LBP) is patented in the UK, method pending in the USA, a simple, safe and effective auto-decompression method to be used at home.
    As a medical doctor using this method to treat my low back pain I can claim that:
    1.This method kept me, a young LBP patient, capable to work.
    2. It was cost-effective as all the other treatments were abandoned.
    3. It keeps me, now an old LBP patient, from becoming a back cripple (unfortunately, there is no absolute cure for heavily herniated disc LBP).
    4. The most important advantage of this method is that it is a self-help, self-manage method. I do not go to my GP or hospital, I use it at home any time suitable and my GP here does not even know that I have a back problem.
    There are some other advantages of this method that require further investigation:
    1. Using this method by patients with simple backache might prevent subsequent disc injury that is highly possible in this group.
    2. This method may be a helpful and cost-effective treatment for patients with neck pain.
    3. This method may be a helpful and cost-effective treatment for patients with ankylosing spondylitis.
    4. It may be reasonable to use this method for preventative measures by people in groups of risk: sedentary mode of life, drivers, porters, weight-lifters, oarsmen and some other sportsmen or parachute jumpers.
    5. This method can be used for spine curvature correction.
    6. Regular use of this method might prevent development of osteoporosis in the bones of spine, upper limbs and shoulder girdle (it is a positive side effect).
    7. This method might prevent periodontal disorders providing the gums’ massage (it is another positive side effect of this method).
    PS: This is absolutely new and effective method – it will decrease the number of hospital visits, it will reduce the cost of care, it will create jobs, it will increase export, it will be famous all over the world. And it can help soldiers.
    Contact me Skype: ifedyaev

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