Why Does My Back Hurt When Walking? Causes and Remedies

back pain when walking

Walking, an activity so basic, so integral to our daily lives. We take thousands of steps every day without a second thought. But what if every step you take is shadowed by discomfort, even pain? If you’re experiencing back pain when walking, you know this is not just a hypothetical scenario. It’s your reality In this guide, we’ll navigate together through the labyrinth of back pain. We’ll delve into the causes, help you recognize the symptoms, discuss immediate relief options, and explore professional treatments. More importantly, we’ll arm you with preventive measures to reclaim your pain-free walks.

Understanding the Basics of Back Pain When Walking

Experiencing discomfort in your back while walking can be quite unsettling. This sensation, often referred to as back pain when walking, can range from a dull, constant ache to sudden sharp pains strong enough to impede your movement. The pain can be localized to one area, such as the lower back, or it can radiate to other areas, like your thighs and legs.

There are several types of back pain that you might experience while walking. These include:

  • Mechanical Pain: This is the most common type of back pain and usually feels like a sore or aching sensation in your lower back. The pain could intensify with certain movements or positions, like walking or standing for extended periods.
  • Radicular Pain: This is a sharp, searing pain that follows the path of your nerves from your back down to your legs. It is usually caused by inflammation or injury to the spinal nerve roots.
  • Referred Pain: This type of pain tends to be dull and achy and usually originates in the lower back or hip area but can radiate to your lower body.

Ignoring back pain when walking is not advisable, as it can signal an underlying health issue that needs addressing. In fact, persistent or worsening pain could lead to more severe problems down the line, including impaired mobility and a reduced quality of life. Therefore, understanding the basics of back pain when walking is the first step towards finding a solution and reclaiming your pain-free walks.

Common Causes of Back Pain When Walking

Common Causes of Back Pain When Walking

The source of back pain when walking can vary widely, reflecting the complexity of our back’s structure and the many elements that could potentially cause discomfort. Some of the common conditions that might lead to back pain when walking include:

  • Spinal Stenosis: This condition is characterized by the narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on your nerves. Walking might exacerbate the pain, while sitting or leaning forward could bring relief.
  • Sciatica: Sciatica, a symptom caused by an issue with the sciatic nerve, can lead to pain that radiates from your lower spine down the back of your leg. The pain usually affects one side and can intensify when you walk.
  • Herniated Disc: Sometimes referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc can occur anywhere along your spine, pressing on the nerves and causing pain. If it’s in your lower back, you might feel pain when walking.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: Age-related wear and tear can lead to degenerative disc disease, where the discs between your vertebrae shrink or tear, causing pain.
  • Muscle or Ligament Strain: Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments, leading to spasms or discomfort when walking.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the lower back, hips, or other joints involved in walking, causing pain during movement.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This condition occurs when a bone in your spine slips forward onto the bone below it, potentially leading to back pain when you’re on the move.

If you’re experiencing back pain when walking, it’s important to remember that these are just a few of the potential causes. Consultation with a healthcare provider is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Identifying the Symptoms of Walking-Induced Back Pain

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of back pain when walking is the first critical step toward finding a solution. The symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause of the pain, but here are some common ones to watch out for:

  • Localized Pain: Pain or discomfort localized in the lower, middle, or upper back area, particularly while walking or standing.
  • Radiating Pain: Pain that starts in your back and radiates to other areas, such as your hips, thighs, or even down to your feet.
  • Pain Intensity: The pain may start as a mild ache but intensify during certain activities like walking or standing for a long time.
  • Pain Timing: You may experience back pain only when you walk, or it may persist even when you’re at rest.
  • Muscle Spasms: Sudden, sharp pain in your back accompanied by muscle spasms.
  • Numbness or Tingling: A numb or tingling sensation in your back, buttocks, thighs, or lower legs.
  • Weakness: Difficulty moving or standing due to weakness in the legs.
  • Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control: This is a rare but serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly if they persist or worsen over time, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider.

How Does Posture Influence Pain In Your Back?

How Does Posture Influence Pain In Your BackWhile walking, your posture plays a crucial role in the health of your back. Maintaining a poor posture can exert excess pressure on your spine, leading to discomfort and even long-term damage.

Poor posture can take many forms, but common issues include slouching, leaning to one side, or constantly looking down (often at a mobile device). These habits can lead to muscle tension, misalignment of the spine, and eventually, back pain.

Improving your posture may help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with back pain when walking. Here are a few tips:

  • Stay Upright: Try to keep your head upright and aligned with your spine. Avoid looking down too frequently.
  • Maintain Shoulder Position: Keep your shoulders relaxed and pulled back, not hunched forward.
  • Engage Your Core: Engaging your abdominal muscles can help to support your spine. Aim to keep your stomach slightly pulled in to maintain this engagement.
  • Mind Your Footwear: Your shoes can significantly influence your walking posture. Opt for supportive shoes that promote alignment and offer good cushioning.
  • Take Breaks: If you’re walking for extended periods, make sure to take short breaks to rest and stretch your back.

Remember, changing habits takes time, so be patient with yourself. Regular attention to your posture can lead to improvements in your comfort levels, not only when you’re walking, but also in your overall daily life.

Immediate Remedies for Back Pain

Immediate Remedies for Back PainIf you’re dealing with back pain when walking, it’s crucial to know some immediate steps you can take for relief. While these methods won’t treat underlying issues, they can provide temporary respite:

  • Rest: If you’re in pain, stop and take a break. Overdoing it can worsen your symptoms. Find a comfortable position to rest in and try to relax your muscles.
  • Ice or Heat: Applying a cold pack to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and numb pain. Use it for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. After the first 48 hours, switch to heat, which can ease stiffness and increase circulation.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Non-prescription pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief from back pain. Always follow the recommended dosage and consult your doctor if you need them for an extended period.
  • Gentle Stretches: Simple stretches can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility. However, it’s important not to force any movement that causes pain.
  • Hydration: Keeping yourself hydrated helps maintain the health of your spinal discs and muscle flexibility, potentially easing discomfort.

While these remedies may provide short-term relief, it’s essential to note that persistent back pain when walking can signal an underlying issue that needs professional attention. If your pain persists, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.

Professional Treatments for Back Pain

Professional Treatments for Back PainWhen home remedies don’t provide lasting relief, it may be time to explore professional treatment options. Your healthcare provider can offer a range of interventions, tailored to your specific condition and needs:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapists are experts in managing pain and improving mobility. They can assess your posture, strength, and movement patterns, and design a personalized exercise program to address your back pain. Therapies can include stretches, strength exercises, and mobility work.
  • Medication: Depending on the cause of your pain, different types of prescription medication can be useful. These could include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, or in some cases, opioids.
  • Injections: If your pain is localized in one area, injections such as nerve blocks or corticosteroids might be used to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery: In cases where conservative treatments have failed, and the pain is severe or worsening, surgery may be an option. Procedures can range from minimally invasive techniques to more complex surgeries like spinal fusion.

Remember, it’s crucial to discuss these options with your healthcare provider to understand the potential benefits and risks. They can help guide you toward the best treatment for your back pain when walking.

Preventing Back Pain When Walking: Tips and Exercises

Tips and Exercises to prevent back painPreventing back pain when walking is an achievable goal with the right knowledge and approach. Here are some practical tips and exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine to help ward off discomfort:

  • Maintain Good Posture: Whether sitting, standing, or walking, maintaining a neutral spine is essential. Avoid slouching and aim for an upright position, with your shoulders relaxed and your chest open.
  • Core Strengthening: Strong core muscles can provide better support for your back. Exercises like planks, bridges, and bird dogs can all strengthen your core.
  • Flexibility Exercises: Increasing flexibility in your back and hips can help reduce the strain on your spine. Try incorporating stretches like the cat-camel stretch, child’s pose, and hamstring stretches into your routine.
  • Adequate Hydration: Staying hydrated helps maintain the health of your spinal discs, reducing the risk of pain.
  • Wear Supportive Footwear: Shoes that provide good arch support and cushioning can help prevent back pain, especially when you’re walking long distances or standing for prolonged periods.
  • Regular Breaks: If you’re on your feet all day, take regular breaks to sit and rest your back. Even a few minutes can make a big difference.

Always consult with a healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you’re already experiencing back pain. They can ensure you’re performing exercises correctly and not exacerbating any existing issues.


In conclusion, while back pain when walking can be distressing, understanding its causes and knowing how to address it can lead you towards a path of relief and recovery. Remember, it’s important not to ignore the pain but instead take proactive measures to treat it and prevent its recurrence.

And remember, you don’t have to manage this alone. If you’re experiencing Back pain, physical therapy for back pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.