Walking downhill with back pain

A few short videos ago, I discussed how being outside in the great outdoors is beneficial to our health. It’s a perfect way for our cardiovascular, nervous, and muscular systems to work efficiently. 

Walking up the hill is actually a great segue into an activity if you have back issues and the reality is that once you get up that hill or mountain, you’re gonna need to come back down. 

Walking downhill is probably one of the hardest types of walking because you are controlling your entire body weight to move against gravity. Every step that you take is compounded with gravity and you have to activate every single muscle so that you don’t collapse under the movement. So if you don’t properly engage the core and use the legs, then there’s going to be excessive movement at the spine which can result in flare-ups, irritation, and even conditions like sciatica. So follow these three action steps to ensure that walking downhill will actually result in a victory rather than low back pain. 

First, you want to take your time. This allows you to find your proper footing so that you’re stable enough to descend the mountain. Also, the act of slowing down automatically turns on your core just enough so that you can actually stabilize with each step. Don’t lose your footing and you’ll be in a good spot. 

The second piece is that you have to focus on quads, quads, quads. Every step down the hill is going to challenge your knee to collapse either inwards or straight forward. So think about the muscles in front of your thigh which controls your body motion when you descend. Hamstrings and glutes move on the way up and the quads on the way down and with quadricep control, you’re going to be able to descend slowly which reduces the jarring forces that can occur at your back.

Number three, your center of gravity should be in fact, centered. Not too far back, not too far forward. Any sort of extra displacement is actually going to result in moving at your spine as you descend as compared to moving at the hips, and that’s just the way our bodies were built. So going downhill after a hike is necessary and you don’t need to be in pain for the second half of your trek. You got this. 

And if you’re ready to take the literal next step in your low back pain recovery journey, then book a free strategy call with me by clicking on the link below or emailing me at We look forward to helping you.


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