Exercise and Back PainWhen we’re in pain, no matter what the culprit, our natural reaction is to rest. However, getting up and getting moving can actually help you more than you think. Sitting still is bad for you body in general. Being active while dealing with back pain can actually help strengthen your back muscles, stomach and even legs. Of course, depending on the cause and intensity of your pain, you should always clear your exercises with your doc first or give the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital a call.
How Exercise Helps Back Pain
As we briefly mentioned, when we have back pain our natural reaction is to rest and that is a common, not to mention harmful misconception. Exercise should most definitely not be avoided when dealing with back pain. Patients are commonly reluctant to exercise a painful back out of fear of aggravating their existing pain; making them rely too heavily on medical treatments and significantly underestimating the importance of exercise as a healing and long-term back pain relief. For most back problems, movement and exercise are the natural stimuli for the healing process. Instead of opting for bed rest, engage in a controlled, gradual and progressive exercise regimen that you and your doctor have designed together. Not only will this lessen your current back pain but prevent future back pain incidents. Prolonged inactivity can actually increase back pain as the back muscle become weak, stiff and deconditioned.
Before you start any exercise regiment or fitness program, you should first consult your doctor or the right kind of fitness professional. It’s important to note that you will probably experience some initial discomfort when starting your exercise program, but worry not, this will subside.
What Kind of Exercises to do
Water therapy is always a great way to start getting those back muscles back into shape and alleviating some of your pain especially if you are experiencing high levels of back, or even neck pain where land-based therapy is just too painful. The water’s buoyancy reduces compression on the lower back allowing for more pain-free movement. Water therapy also prepares the body for more intense exercises.
Walking is a good option for those of you who are experiencing less intense back pain and are ready to move onto more intensive land-based exercise. Walking is considered a low-impact form of exercise and is an ideal option for those of you specific to ongoing or recurrent episodes of lower back pain.
Stretching is good for just about anyone dealing with some form of pain. Stretch the soft tissues – muscles, ligaments and tendons – in the back, buttocks and around the spine. Here are some general tips from Spine-Health for relieving back pain:
- Wear comfortable clothes that won’t bind
- Stretching should be pain-free; do not force the body into difficult positions
- Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles
- Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
- Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times
What Exercises to Avoid
According to WebMd here are some exercises you should try to avoid if you are experiencing back pain:
- Toe touches as these can put stress on the discs and ligaments in your spine.
- Sit-ups as these can also put pressure on the discs in your spine
- Leg lifts- lifting both legs together while laying on your back is very demanding on your core and if weak, these can actually make your back pain worse.
Obviously, you know your body better than anyone, just don’t push it. Active forms of back exercises are almost always necessary to rehabilitate the spine and help alleviate back pain. Your friends at Nebraska Spine Hospital wish you nothing but a speedy and healthy recovery and we are always here to help. If you’d like to talk to a doctor about your back pain and explore your own options, please do not hesitate to make an appointment today.