Category Archives: Exercise

Ward Off Back Pain With Exercise

We have a lot of family members of patients ask us what they can do to prevent back pain. While it depends on the cause of pain, we generally advise that they can ward off back pain with exercise and proper posture. Weight training can help prevent back pain. Click To Tweet

Believe it or not, one of the best forms of exercise to help prevent back pain and injury is weight training. When done properly, weight training can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, making you much less likely to strain your back. While your goal may be to specifically strengthen your back, abdominal, and hamstring muscles, you cannot solely focus on those muscles groups. Doing so may lead to imbalances in your musculature and result in other areas of pain.

Tips for staying safe

If done incorrectly, weight training can quickly lead to back pain and injury. To avoid that happening to you, keep the tips below in mind.

  • Always practice proper form. If you are uncertain of the proper form, please consult an expert or a personal trainer at your gym.
  • Focus on slow and steady resistance training, avoiding any jerky or sudden movements.
  • Start with a light amount of weight. When you feel comfortable performing the exercise at that weight, challenge yourself by slowly increasing the weight or amount of repetitions.
  • Never skip warming up or cooling down.

Below are two exercises to try if you’re specifically looking to strengthen your spine. Add them to your current workout and perform them up to 2 times per week, completing 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions each time.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Image: Bodybuilding.com

 

 

 

 

 

Find a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side. Position your right leg and right hand on top of the bench. Use your left hand to pick the dumbbell off the floor and hold it while keeping your back straight. Pull the dumbbell up to the side of your body, keeping your upper arm close to your side and your torso stationary. Then, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform this movement 10-15 times before switching sides. After completing the exercise on both sides, rest before repeating it 1-2 more times.

Planks

Planks

 

 

 

 

Start by getting into the pushup position and dropping onto your forearms, making sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core muscles tight, make sure your entire body forms a straight line. Hold the position for as long as you can before resting and repeating the exercise 1-2 additional times.

To ward off back pain with exercise, it is important to be consistent. Starting out, we recommend you only work out 2-3 times per week and increase from there. As always, it’s best to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise regime.

Walking For Exercise And Spine Health

With the weather warming up, we know you’re itching to take a walk around the block and soak up some sunshine. Walking is a great form of low impact aerobic exercise for people of all fitness levels. It provides all of the benefits other forms of aerobic activity provide without the added stress on your joints. We recommend walking for exercise to our patients with ongoing or recurring back pain, or for those recovering from surgery.

Benefits Of Walking For Exercise

Walking for exercise has a myriad of health benefits. First, it helps to strengthen both your muscles and bones. When the muscles in your feet, legs, hips, and torso become stronger, they increase your spine’s stability and condition the muscles to hold your body upright. The stronger these muscles are, the less susceptible you are to back pain and spinal injuries.

Second, walking also provides nourishment for your spinal structures. Because it’s an aerobic activity, it improves your body’s circulation. Improved circulation helps pump nutrients into your spine’s soft tissues and drain toxins.

Third, walking for exercise can help improve your flexibility and posture. When combined, walking and stretching allow your joints to have a greater range of motion.

Finally, walking reduces bone density loss, which helps to prevent osteoporosis and lessens pain caused by osteoarthritis.Walking can help prevent osteoporosis by reducing bone density loss. Click To Tweet

Good Posture Is Key

However, like every other aspect of daily life, posture is the key to a healthy spine. Your feet help to keep your body balanced and aligned and any imbalance in your feet can cause weight to be distributed improperly.

This imbalance can affect your gait while walking, leading to muscle and back pain. While the imbalance may seem minimal, over time the unnecessary wear and tear can add up to serious damage to your spine.

A proper pair of walking shoes can prevent an imbalance from occurring. To find the correct pair, we recommend you visit a shoe store that can match shoes based on your natural gait.

 
And, as always, be sure to consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regime. While walking for exercise is beneficial for most, it may not be a suitable exercise for all. Happy walking!

Tee Up For A Pain-Free Golf Season

Golf is an excellent form of low impact aerobic exercise, especially if you walk the course as opposed to using a golf cart. But did you know that golf and lower back pain have an undeniable link?

Lower back pain is by far the most common ailment of golfers, regardless of their age. In fact, 28% of golfers deal with lower back pain on a regular basis. Even 23% of professional golfers report playing with lower back pain.Did you know that 28% of golfers deal with lower back pain on a regular basis? Click To Tweet

So what about golf causes so many avid players pain? The main culprit is the golf swing. From the backswing to the follow-through, your spine rotates with great deal of force and not very much control. What’s more, is that forceful golf swing often strains your spinal muscles, specifically in the lumbar region.

Even the act of bending to pick up your golf bag, club, or ball can strain your back.

So, how can you reap the aerobic benefits and ensure a pain-free golf season? For starters, you can begin every game with a proper warmup and stretching session. Practicing smooth, easy swings are a great warm up. After that, make sure to stretch your shoulders, torso, hips, and even your hamstrings.

Another great way to prevent injury is to learn proper form and posture. Not only will doing so help prevent injury, but it may even improve your game! You want to focus on a smooth, rhythmic golf swing with good balance, making sure to maintain the same spine angle throughout the entire swing.  

Updating your golfing equipment might also help save your lower back. Choose a golf bag with a built-in stand to avoid having to lift it off the ground, and dual-straps to carry the weight evenly across your back. You can even rent or purchase a push cart, allowing you to walk the course without having to carry your clubs.

When you do have to pick up a piece of equipment, make sure to practice proper lifting techniques and bend at your knees.

 
Next time you hit the course, make sure to implement the tips above for a pain-free golf game. If you are already experiencing lower back pain, please schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.

9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain

Did you know that September is National Yoga Month? Yoga can be extremely beneficial for those experiencing back pain, including occasional soreness and chronic pain. However, people with severe back pain should not attempt to use yoga for symptom relief. And remember, it is always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning a new fitness regimen.

What makes yoga so much better for back pain than other fitness routines? Yoga is one of the only workouts that emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility. In fact, recent studies have found that practicing yoga relieves symptoms caused by back pain better than stretching alone. The same study found that those who practice yoga regularly are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications than those who attempt to manage symptoms on their own.

So which poses should you incorporate into your routine for the most effective pain relief? We’ve compiled a list of nine poses below, along with instructions on how to perform them, to help manage your back pain symptoms. All of the poses should be held for 3-5 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Downward facing dog is the most well-known yoga pose out there because elongates the cervical spine and strengthens the core, hamstrings and lower back – all in one move! Begin on your hands and knees, tuck your toes, lift your hips and bring your heels toward the ground, making sure to keep your spine straight.

 

Upward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Upward facing dog helps to open your chest, and improve abdominal and back stretch. From the downward facing dog position, shift forward into a plank pose. Untuck your toes and lift your head up, making sure to keep your knees off the ground.

 

Low Lunge with Backbend

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Low lunge with backbend strengthens and stretches your entire back. While in a low lunge position, gently lower your back knee to the ground. Bring your arms up alongside your head and lean back.

 

Seated Forward Fold

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated forward fold is primarily known as a hamstring stretch, but it’s also great for lengthening your back. Start in an upright seated position with your legs in front of you. Guide your hands down your legs until you’ve stretched as far as you can.

 

Seated Spinal Twist

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated spinal twist is great for improving posture and spine mobility. While in a seated position, bring your left foot to the outside of your right knee. Hook your right elbow outside your left knee and look back over your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

 

Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Standing forward fold with clasped hands is great for stretching your back, increasing shoulder mobility, and opening up your chest. While standing, bend forward at your hips and stretch your fingertips toward the ground. Clasp your hands behind you and bring your palms together, even if you have to bend your elbows.

 

Lower Back Clasp

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Lower back clasp both stretches and strengthens your lower back. While lying on your stomach, clasp your hands behind you and lift your chest off the ground. Again, if you have to bend your elbows to bring your palms together, do so.

 

Sphinx Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Sphinx pose lengthens the spine and opens up the chest. Start on your hands and knees, and lower your stomach to the ground while bringing your forearms in front of you and lifting your chest.

 

Bow Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Bow pose stretches and strengthens the upper back and shoulders to help improve posture. While lying on your stomach, reach for your heels and lift them up, causing your back to arch naturally.

Go for the Gold! Train Like an Olympian

This weekend, the Summer 2016 Olympics will kick off and we will see the world’s finest athletes compete for a gold medal. Many of these athletes have incredible conditioning and workout routines to prepare them for competition. Leading up to competition, they focus on diet and exercise. Ever wonder what some of their secrets are? If you are looking to change up your workout regimen, you can sneak in some of these tips. Remember to always consult with your doctor when you want to incorporate new exercises into your routine.

Successful athletes all do the same thing: they set a goal and stick with it. This is the most important part of training like an Olympian. You can do this, too! Is your goal a distance? A weight? A blood pressure level? A reduction in pain? Once you determine your goal, you can establish the building blocks of your exercise and diet plan. Break down the process of reaching your goal into smaller goals that can mark progress along the way. This can often help make an unreachable goal seem much more attainable.

In most sports at the Olympic level, many athletes put their effort into developing lean muscle mass rather than only losing fat. One secret that many athletes use is following a steady-state cardiovascular workout. These often take the place of strength training and high intensity-interval training (HIIT) because these workouts can often exhaust you, making recovery time between workouts longer. While it is important to rest between workouts to prevent strain, fatigue and injury, when you are working out towards a goal, you’ll want all the time you can get working out instead of resting. You’ll recover faster following a steady-state cardio workout than one that focuses on strength and HIIT. Steady-state cardio can also help you to maintain muscle mass, burn calories and build your aerobic fitness. Often the types of maneuvers can mimic the benefits of weight training without the stress.

You might think training is the most important part of being a successful athlete, but don’t forget about a healthy diet. The first thing any Olympic athlete will tell you is that hydration is key to their success. Each athlete will formulate a healthy diet designed for their goals and the types of training they are doing. The food you eat should fuel your body and contain a good balance of nutrients to support those workouts. Eat for your workout. Athletes will focus on filling their diet with healthy, lean proteins like almonds or chicken. If energy is needed, you can incorporate healthier carbs like a sweet potato or chickpeas. Antioxidants in leafy, green veggies can help with recovery, too. Most healthy athletes will avoid fatty, high calorie foods that offer low nutritional value like fried foods, white carbohydrates, foods high in sugar, and large portions.

Finally, the best thing you can do to train like an Olympic athlete is to stay motivated. A fitness plan should really come down to one simple question: are you going to stick with it? Make sure you create a plan that you enjoy and that brings you joy. If you don’t love your workouts, you should at least respect them. To keep you on track, try to find a buddy that will work out with you and keep you motivated on those days when you just don’t feel like it. Write down your goals and keep a positive diary of your amazing progress. Stay optimistic about your goals and your workouts and you will soon see the benefits.