Ease Your Back Pain with Exercise
I get asked this a lot and it’s a great question. Certainly, I can’t speak for every case of back pain. However, generally speaking, exercise can have a great bit of benefit to those suffering from mild to even severe back pain. I will first say this: talk with your doctor before you begin making any changes in your activity and even your diet. Your course of treatment may have specific details which should be followed for your recovery.
My story. In 1994, I herniated two discs in my lower back, and since 7th grade have incurred about seven neck injuries. So I’m no stranger to what many of you are going through. My course of treatment and recovery included chiropractic care and physical therapy. I refused drugs and used nutritional supplements instead. That’s my choice and each individual has to decide for themselves what is best. The strongest medication I used was an over the counter product. When I began my studying for personal training certification, a strong emphasis was placed on core strengthening and correcting existing muscle imbalances. I have to say I am pain-free and am able to work out at a level of moderately high intensity because of it. Everyone is different in their degree of injury and pain, but also their compliance with therapy aimed at recovery.
So, when someone asks what exercise can do for low back pain, my answer has to be, “It can give you your life back!”
A lack of activity with too much sitting is a key factor in low back pain. Muscles not only weaken, but shorten, resulting in a tilted pelvis, imbalanced kinetic chain and pain. This leads to inflammation and more pain. It’s a recurrent cycle of pain and inflammation. Becoming more active is critical in reversing the imbalances which exist and the pain. Sitting at a computer or desk for prolonged periods also contributes to neck and shoulder pain. The longer you sit, the more you fatigue. The longer the fatigue, the worse the posture and so on.
Exercising for weight loss can only help reduce back pain. By carrying a lighter load, your back can rest a little easier. Your knees also get a break as do your feet/ankles. Most fail to consider the importance of the ankles and knees in keeping the back healthy.
Flexibility training plays an important role in recovery and prevention of future injury and pain. In many clients, we see a tightness in the hamstrings, low back, hip flexors and deep lumbar muscles. Stretching them not only improves range of motion, but can aid in returning the spine to a more normal curve instead of pulling it out of it’s alignment.
Core strengthening will indeed help hold the spine in alignment as well as help disperse the weight of any load carried in front of the body – including excess body weight. From inactivity and excessive sitting or standing, these muscles weaken and are in part related to an imbalance in the kinetic chain.
Strengthening the core (which is comprised of 26 muscles) and deep pelvic tissue (not just doing sit-ups and crunches for the abdominals) helps in supporting your low back and protecting it from heavy lifting.
Cardiorespiratory training helps improve lung volume capacity and the systems involved. The process of training these systems leads to weight loss. Weight loss leads to a reduction in the load your skeletal system must carry, and this includes the back.
Nutritional supplements are a critical part of the equation. The reason I say this is due to the fact that our diets, especially those of sedentary people, lack sufficient nutrients and include excessive empty calories, additives, artificial product and GMO foods. All of these increase inflammation in the body and lead to disease. HOWEVER – supplements are only part of the equation. A change in how much, what and even when you eat has to be considered.
Join me for my 4 session/four week program: Total Back Care. We meet one time per week, for 4 weeks for one hour each session. For details, or additional questions about back pain and health, please email Coach Fred at: CoachFred@OneSourceWellnessCoaching.comCoachFred@OneSourceWellnessCoaching.com.