Women's Health Walking Workouts

LUMBAR STRAIN

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What it feels like: Ache in your mid-to-lower back. Why it happens: Walking doesn’t usually cause lower-back problems, but the repetitive movement can make an existing lower-back injury worse: it’s easy to “throw out your back” when spinal tendons and ligaments are overworked. Arthritis or inflammati­on of surroundin­g nerves can also cause pain in this region. Thefix: Keep the muscles in your trunk strong. While you walk, engage your abs by pulling your belly button towards your spine. “Avoid bending over at the waist, a tendency when you are walking fast or uphill,” Schuemann says. “Keep your spine elongated and lean your whole body slightly forward from your ankles.” To prevent slumping, cross your arms at the wrists in front of you and raise them as if you’re pulling a shirt over your head. Stretch up, then lower your arms, letting your shoulders drop into place. Tight hamstrings and hip flexors can also put pressure on the lower back, so be sure to keep those areas flexible too.

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