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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Keep Your Back On The Fast Trace - The Best Back Exercises For Racewalkers

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

According to Paul Richin, an orthopedic surgeon in Atlanta, racewalking is an excellent exercise for most people who have experienced back problems.  Dr. Richin, a former runner, says that as far as aerobic exercise goes, “racewalking is ideal since the back does not take the pounding as with many other aerobic exercises.”

Dr. Richin describes the movement of racewalking as “controlled.”  Furthermore, he says that the racewalking motion “minimizes the force the back has to endure.”  He emphasizes that racewalking is helpful only if done correctly.  By that he means using the pelvic tilt, and never bending at the waist.  “The pelvic tilt helps control the back muscles which may help prevent muscle spasms.”  Muscle spasms are common in those people with degenerative disk disease (basically the wearing out of the “back cushions.”)

According to Dr. Richin, if you have back problems, the worst thing you can do is an exercise that causes sudden changes in position such as the twisting that is typical of many exercises such as tennis, racquetball, and even many aerobic dance moves.  “Done correctly, racewalking actually helps to protect the back,” states Dr. Richin.

Dr. Richin surprisingly has degenerative disk disease himself (remember the plumber whose kitchen pipes were clogged?)  He says that during his running days, his back would always hurt (not because of any twisting, but rather because of the compressive forces which were generated.)  “I also had to give up tennis because of the pain due to the twisting and uncontrolled sudden movements.”  Just recently while he was playing golf, Dr. Richin pulled a back muscle due to an awkward stance and a twisting motion.  He was surprised when he was able to keep racewalking that evening without pain.

Sometimes people find their back still hurts when doing fast, fitness walking.  Dr. Richin suggests that the racewalking posture is actually more protective to the back than even fitness walking.  “The two components that make racewalking so effective are the short stride in front and the upright, erect posture with the pelvic tilt.”  Dr. Richin continues that, “those two racewalk techniques are very interrelated.  Both help the walker to keep the body in an upright, erect position.  The back muscles are controlled and there is no bending at the waist.”  This protects the unstable or degenerative spine.  “It’s almost like wearing a back support,” according to Dr. Richin.

Next month, I’ll go over Dr. Richin’s top exercises for preventing back problems and keeping your back on the fast track.

© 2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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