How To Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain While Walking

How To Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain While Walking

By Dr. Shoaib Muhammad , published on June 29, 2023
Dr Shoaib Muhammad,MD

Mark Twain used to joke that "golf is a good walk spoiled". Whether you like the sport or not, I'd argue that lower back pain is much worse. 

It's a common problem that can result from various factors, such as poor posture, muscle imbalances, or underlying medical conditions.

Thankfully, there are several methods and exercises that can reduce pain in your lower back while walking.

Being proactive about it is the first step, so you're in the right place. A little effort can promote comfort, mobility, and general well-being.

What Happens Inside The Lower Back When Someone Gets Pain While Walking?

Before we delve into the mechanics of lower back pain due to walking, let’s first get familiar with the anatomy of the lower back. The lower back consists of a bony part (the lumbar spine bone), supportive tissue (disc), and the spinal cord with nerve roots.

The Lumbar Spine

The lower back, or lumbar region, is made up of 5 vertebrae (L1-L5) that distribute pressure and allow for movement of the upper body. Standing for long periods, walking, and lifting all place heavy strain on the lumbar spine.

Spinal Discs and Nerves

The intervertebral discs located between each set of vertebrae serve as cushioning and provide pain-free motion in the spine. The discs have a hard outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a gel-like inner core called the nucleus pulposus.

Furthermore, the nerves that run through the spinal cord exit into the spaces between the vertebrae to relay messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Other Mechanics in the Back

Now that we have a fair understanding of the inner structure of the lower back, let’s move on to the possible mechanisms of lower back pain. Walking, as we know, is a rhythmic activity that repeatedly involves shifting your weight from one leg to the other. Here's what goes on inside your lower back as you walk in pain:

Imbalance and weight distribution

Poor walking rhythms or bad posture can result in an uneven distribution of weight on the lumbar spine. Because of this disparity, some regions may experience abnormally high levels of tension, which can be painful.

Degenerative changes in the discs

Damage from use or age-related changes can cause the intervertebral discs to degenerate over time. When discs degenerate, they lose some of their height and ability to absorb shock, leaving the spine more sensitive to aches and pains.

Compression and irritation of nerves

Deterioration of the discs might lead to compression of the nerves. Pain in the buttocks and legs (sciatica) is a common symptom of this condition.

Muscle strain and spasms

Lower back muscular pain and spasm can result from overuse or poor biomechanics. Spasms, in which muscles tighten against their will and inflict pain and suffering, are a potential outcome of muscle strain.

An infographic summarising the above info on why lower back pain can occur while walking.

The Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain While Walking

There are several causes of lower back discomfort when walking. To tackle and cope with the pain effectively, it's critical to pinpoint the underlying causes. Let's look at some of the most typical reasons why walking can induce lower back pain.


The sciatic nerve, which runs from the bottom of the back downward to the legs, can become irritated or compressed, a condition known as sciatica. Walking can make the discomfort worse because of the strain it puts on the lower back. Among the most prevalent causes of sciatica are [1]:

Disc Herniation

The sciatic nerve may become compressed when the core of the gel-like intervertebral disc protrudes.

Piriformis Syndrome

The sciatic nerve can become irritated or compressed by the piriformis muscle, which sits deep in the buttocks.

Spinal Stenosis

Sciatica may result from pressure on the nerve roots caused by spinal canal narrowing.


Walking-related lower back discomfort may be exacerbated by hyperlordosis, sometimes referred to as swayback or a significant inward curve of the spine. This condition causes discomfort by putting more pressure on the lumbar region. There are several causes of hyperlordosis [2].

Weak Abdominal Muscles

Lack of core stability might cause the lower back to arch excessively.


Having too much weight on your body might strain your lower back and make it more curved.

Tense Hip Flexors

Hyperlordosis can be exacerbated by tightness in the muscles surrounding the hip’s front.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The spinal canal narrows with lumbar spinal stenosis, putting stress on the spinal cord. Due to extra stress on the structures of the spine when walking, the discomfort frequently gets worse. The following are the causes and risk factors for lumbar spinal stenosis [3]:

Degenerative Effects

The spinal canal may narrow due to ageing and spinal degeneration.

Congenital Conditions

Some people may have a smaller spinal canal at birth, which predisposes them to stenosis.


Spinal stenosis can be facilitated by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Muscle Damage

Walking pain might result from lower back muscle spasms or injury. Several factors may be responsible for lower back pain caused by muscles

Repetitive Strain

The muscles in the lower back can get sore after engaging in repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting actions.

Muscle Imbalances

Strain and pain can be exacerbated by weak or unbalanced lower back and core muscles. Improper Posture: Walking with poor posture can strain your back muscles and make you feel pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease

The slow degeneration of the spine’s intervertebral discs is called degenerative disc disease. Even though this ailment is a common aspect of ageing, walking with it might hurt your lower back. There are several causes of degenerative disc disease, including [1]:

  • Herniated Disc: Discs age and become more prone to herniation, which can be painful when walking.
  • Desiccation of the Disc: A loss of fluid content inside the discs might result in a lower disc height and less efficient shock absorption.

This infographic summarises info on common causes of lower back pain when walking

Back Pain Red Flags

If you've got back pain and experience any of the below symptoms, these are considered red flags and mean that you should see a doctor. I wrote the article for upper back pain, but they're also applicable here.

  • Seek medical attention for upper back pain after a fall or injury.
  • Fever with upper back pain may indicate an infection or systemic disorder.
  • Frequent upper back pain at night can signal serious conditions like cancer or infection.
  • Unexplained weight loss along with upper back pain could indicate a serious condition.
  • Severe upper back pain not responding to OTC medications should be taken seriously.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control is a medical emergency, potentially indicating spinal cord injury.
  • Numbness or tingling in the upper back might suggest nerve compression requiring medical management.
  • If you have a history of cancer and experience upper back pain, it may signal metastasis.
  • Pain not relieved with rest and conservative measures could indicate a more serious condition.

Effective Exercises to Alleviate Lower Back Pain

If you have lower back pain when walking, including specific exercises in your daily routine might help relieve discomfort and improve the muscles that support your spine. Here are a few exercises that are very good for lower back pain.

Remember to go easy on yourself when performing these and speak with your own doctor if you have a pre-existing medical condition that would make them more difficult. If you likes these and want more, I've also written a full list of exercises for back pain.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

A diagram showing the knee to chest stretch, performed while lying on your back, raising one knee to your chest, then the other, then both

The knee-to-chest exercise relaxes the ligaments and muscles, which helps relieve lower back strain. Here's what you need to do [4]:

  • Lay on your back and stretch your legs out.
  • Using both hands, gently pull one knee towards your chest as you gradually bring the other one closer.
  • Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch to the other leg, and repeat.
  • Perform two to three sets on each leg.

Lower Back Rotations

A diagram showing the  lower back rotations exercise, lying on your back with knees bent while rotating your lower body only on each side

Rotations of the lower back increase lumbar flexibility and mobility. Here is how to execute them [4]:

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Bend your knees and your feet should be flat on the ground.
  • Aim to bring your knees as close to the floor as you can without hurting yourself as you slowly lower them to one side.
  • Hold the pose for ten to fifteen seconds.
  • Return to the starting posture.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Perform two or three sets on each side.

Bird Dogs

A diagram showing the bird dog exercise, starting on all fours then raising the opposite leg and arm, holding the position before alternating.

Bird dogs focus on the core muscles, notably the lower back, to increase stability and balance. [4] Follow these steps:

  • Begin on your knees and hands, with your knees right under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Extend one leg back while stretching the opposite arm forward.
  • Maintain a straight back and avoid sagging or arching.
  • Once you've held this position for a few seconds, go back to the beginning posture.
  • Do the same with the other arm and leg.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10–12 repetitions on both sides.


A diagram showing the bridge exercise, laying on back with knees bent then raising the hips towards the ceiling and holding

The bridge exercise strengthens and stabilises the muscles in the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Here is how to do it [4]:

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, hip distance apart.
  • Put your core muscles to work and lift your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • After an initial period of holding the position, carefully bring your hips back down.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10–12 repetitions.
A summary infographic of the exercises to help lower back pain that happens when walking

Insider Tips for Your Lower Back

Lower back pain can be bothersome and even unbearable, especially when walking.

There are, however, several things you can do to lessen and avoid lower back pain. Let's look at various methods that can be used to lessen pain when walking.

Keep a Good Desk Posture

The way you sit at your desk will have a significant impact on the health of your lower back. Here is what you can do [1]:

  • Make sure the chair you're sitting in is supporting your back properly.
  • Use a footrest or keep your feet flat on the ground if necessary.
  • Position your knees at a 90-degree angle.
  • Adjust the height of your chair to keep your back and neck in a neutral position.
  • Every once in a while, get up, stretch, and move around.

Choose Comfortable Chairs and Seat Cushions

An appropriate chair and seat cushion can offer additional support and lessen lower back pain. [1]:

  • To preserve good spinal alignment, look for seat cushions with lumbar support.
  • To customise your support, think about chairs with adjustable features like backrest tilt and height.
  • Use chairs that are ergonomically designed to support proper posture and weight distribution.

Maintain Correct Walking Posture

Maintaining proper walking posture will reduce lower back pain and encourage a healthy gait. Consider the following suggestions [2]:

  • Keep your head in line with your shoulders when you stand upright.
  • Let your shoulders down and relaxed.
  • To stabilise your spine, contract the muscles in your core.
  • Swing your arms naturally as you walk.
  • Take easy steps and don't overstep or bend over too much.

Manage Your Weight

Lower back discomfort that occurs while walking is significantly influenced by weight. Here are some factors that make weight management crucial [2]

The spine and its supporting parts are under greater stress as a result of excess weight. Losing weight can ease walking-related pain and lessen the stress on the lower back. To attain and keep a healthy weight, follow a balanced diet and engage in regular exercise.

In addition to the tips mentioned above, you can follow some extra tips to further ease lower back discomfort when walking: Put on supportive, padded shoes that also offer stability for your lower back and feet.

Perform simple exercises as a warm-up to stretch and loosen up the muscles before walking. Increase the length and pace of your walks gradually to give your body time to adjust. Consult a healthcare practitioner for a full assessment and advice if the pain continues or gets worse.

The Bottom Line: Expert Advice

Walking regularly can be an effective form of exercise, but to avoid discomfort and pain, you need to take proper care of your lower back. Focus on maintaining good posture, using supportive shoes, and performing core-strengthening exercises to reduce lower back pain when walking.

Furthermore, including light stretching throughout your walks will help you become more flexible and loosen up your muscles.

Keep in mind that it is best to get evaluated by a doctor if your lower back pain grows worse or lingers to receive an accurate diagnosis and the right care. Maintain an active lifestyle, prioritise your back health, and enjoy pain-free walks!


1. Spine Works Institute. Why Do I Get Lower Back Pain When Walking or Standing for Long Periods?

2. Medical News Today. Causes of lower back pain when standing or walking.

3. Health Match. Lower Back Pain When Standing Or Walking: What You Need To Know.

4. WebMD. Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain.