Health Tips

Is it good to walk with a lumbar impingement?

Severe pain in the lower back, radiating down the leg, could be indicative of a lumbar impingement. This common condition can significantly hinder movement. Contrary to popular belief, excessive rest may impede recovery.

The lumbar spine bears most of the body’s weight and plays a crucial role in maintaining balance. It also safeguards the spinal cord, a vital component of the nervous system, from which numerous nerves originate to control movement and sensation throughout the body.

An overload or repetitive movements can lead to compression of these nerves, resulting in pain or sensory and mobility issues. However, when experiencing pain from impingement, is it beneficial to engage in walking? Let’s proceed step by step to explore this further.

Lumbar impingement: what is it and what causes it?

An impingement occurs when a nerve is compressed by the surrounding bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons. While it can happen anywhere in the spine, it is more common in the lumbar spine (lower back) due to the significant rotational movements and forces it experiences throughout the day.

The potential causes of lumbar impingement include:

  • Poor posture habits.
  • Repetitive movements or overexertion from physical exercise or work.
  • Trauma or injury.
  • Certain diseases like osteoarthritis, which can lead to bone thickening and bone spurs in the spine, narrowing the space through which nerves pass.
  • Obesity, which increases pressure on the nerves.
  • Pregnancy, where weight gain and hormonal changes can affect connective tissue, ligaments, and joints, leading to compression in the lower back.
  • A sedentary lifestyle or spending extended periods immobile in bed during recovery after an operation.

Lumbar impingement may be a precursor to the development of a herniated disc, where a vertebra displaces and compresses an intervertebral disc. This condition can affect, among others, the sciatic nerve—the body’s longest nerve—which starts in the lower back (sacral plexus) and runs down the leg to the feet.

Lumbar impingement can result in sciatica, characterized by pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the legs and feet along the path of the sciatic nerves.

Lumbar impingement: symptoms

The most prominent symptom of a lumbar impingement is a stabbing pain in the lower back. Additionally, individuals may experience:

  • Numbness and reduced sensitivity in the lower back.
  • Tingling or a stinging sensation.
  • Numbness in the legs.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Stiffness.
  • Spasms or involuntary contractions.
  • Decreased mobility.

These symptoms may intensify at night while sleeping and upon waking up.

Is it good to walk with a lumbar impingement?

Although the pain from lumbar impingement can make walking difficult, prolonged rest is not recommended as it may worsen the pain and slow down the healing process.

According to the Consensus Document on back pain by the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN) and the Spanish Society of Family and Community Pharmacy (SEFAC), contrary to popular belief, engaging in light exercise targeted at the affected area can actually promote recovery.

Walking is a beneficial way to stay fit, but it may exacerbate pain for some individuals. Therefore, it is advisable to take short walks at a gentle pace on flat ground and observe how the body responds.

If repetitive movements are the cause of the impingement, modifying postural habits is recommended. For instance, if the impingement is related to work movements, a physiotherapist can teach postural hygiene measures for carrying out those movements correctly, such as proper techniques for lifting weights and bending down.

To reduce pain, paying attention to one’s sleeping position is important. It is best to sleep on your side or back and place a cushion under your knees. Additionally, using a mattress that is not too soft can help maintain good spinal posture and improve sleep quality.

For those who are overweight or obese, losing weight can be beneficial in preventing nerve compression and future episodes of lumbar impingement.

Incorporating specific exercises and stretches that target the lower back can help strengthen the area and alleviate pressure on the affected nerve.

How long does a back impingement last?

The majority of individuals experiencing lumbar impingement find relief within a few days through measures like massage, stretching, and specific exercises aimed at alleviating pain. These conservative treatments are often effective in promoting recovery.

However, in certain cases where these measures do not provide the desired results, surgery may be deemed necessary as a more aggressive approach to address the underlying impingement and its causes.

Melissa Goslin

Melissa Goslin is a highly skilled and passionate health articles writer who possesses an exceptional ability to convey complex medical concepts in a clear and accessible manner. With a background in health sciences and a deep understanding of various healthcare topics,

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