The effect of daily walking steps on preventing neck and low back pain in sedentary workers: a 1-year prospective cohort study

Eur Spine J. 2015 Mar;24(3):417-24. doi: 10.1007/s00586-014-3577-3. Epub 2014 Sep 11.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate the causal relationship between daily walking steps and the 1-year incidence of neck and low back pain in workers with sedentary jobs.

Methods: A 1-year prospective study was carried out among 387 workers who reported no spinal symptoms in the previous 3 months with pain intensity greater than 30 mm on a 100-mm visual analog scale. Data were gathered using a self-administered questionnaire, physical examination, and pedometer. Follow-up data were collected every month for the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders and every 3 months for daily walking steps. Two regression models were built to analyze the effect of daily walking steps on the 1-year incidence of neck and low back pain.

Results: Among 367 (95 %) participants followed for 1 year, 16 and 14 % reported incident neck and low back pain, respectively. After adjusting for confounders, a negative association between daily walking steps and onset of neck pain was found. Increasing daily walking steps by 1,000 reduced the risk of neck pain by 14 %. No significant association between daily walking steps and the onset of low back pain was found.

Conclusions: Increasing daily walking steps is a protective factor for onset of neck pain in those with sedentary jobs. Interventions to reduce neck pain should include attempts to increase daily walking steps.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thailand
  • Walking*