Do's and Dont's for Exercise and Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is incredibly common. It is also consistently ranked amongst the most debilitating afflictions going. It’s horrible. However, it can be aided by exercise – or, at least, the right kind of exercise.
It can be hard to know which exercises can be beneficial, or even safe, when you are suffering with lower back pain. It can be very tempting to skip exercise altogether and just lie around, trying not to aggravate your symptoms.
However, most of the time, lower back pain is mechanical. There will be day-to-day life stresses that hurt it; there will be physical misalignments, such as a large stomach leading to your centre of gravity being off; or there might simply be too little muscle mass around your lower back to keep it safe and healthy.
This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes (in fewer than 1% of cases) there will be something more serious going on in your lower back. This can be something like a fracture, spinal tumour or systemic disease. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with your medical provider if you have any concerns with your lower back. You should also see a doctor if your pain is constant, debilitating, include leg pain, is focused around an injury, or is causing concern in any other way.
Otherwise, exercise can help. It can give you immediate relief and it can help to get rid of long-term structural issues, by building up muscle tissue and stretching out cramped joints and soft tissue.
You need to do things right, right from the start. There are things that will generally help you with your lower back pain and there are things that may make it worse. The following list should help. Follow the advice below – take note of the dos and don’ts of training with lower back pain – and you should be OK.
Dos and don’ts for lower back pain
1. Don’t stay idle
It can be very tempting to constantly rest your back, to give up on any hope of an active lifestyle. However, being idle – especially lying around for more than a day or so – will likely make your symptoms worse. They will probably compound the problems you are already suffering from.
You will also be missing out on the opportunities offered by an active lifestyle.
If your lower back pain is threatening to put you to bed, try going for a ten- or fifteen-minute sedate walk. Get the blood and synovial fluid going and loosen up a bit.
2. Don’t power through lower back pain
However, you don’t want to ignore pain or train through it. If something hurts, take it seriously. Pull back from it. Consult a physiotherapist, who may be able to give you new exercises or modifications that will work for you.
If your lower back pain persists when you train, talk to your doctor. They will be able to look into underlying conditions and injuries.
3. Don’t go heavy through lower back pain
You should avoid lifting heavy weights or running through high impact movements if you are suffering from lower back pain. Higher intensities can cause further damage and pain. Stick to weights you can lift with a good form, and make sure you keep your form completely correct.
If you are unsure of how to correctly lift, seek help from a personal trainer or gym instructor. You may find machines easier than free weights, especially at first.
Gym instructors should always be on hand to show you how to correctly operate machines and steer you towards the ones that won't injure your back further.
Also try to avoid jumping exercises or anything with high impact. Even running can be too jarring. Try using cross trainers and stationary bikes. You will be able to find them in any commercial gym - just ask a member of staff if you’re unsure.
4. Don’t load your spine
Try not to load the spine too much if you’re struggling with lower back pain. This usually means skipping overhead weight presses or anything with the weight loaded across your shoulders, like barbell squats. It will add too much pressure to the spinal discs.
Try machine alternatives if you want to work these muscle groups. Leg extensions, presses and curls can work well instead of barbell squats. So can front squats, goblet squats, or air squats. Seated machine presses can be more comfortable and much safer than free-weight overhead presses.
Again, if you are unfamiliar with any of these exercises, a friendly gym instructor or personal trainer will be able to give you some good pointers.
5. Do take a good warm-up
You don’t want to jar your back or put any sudden pressure through it, especially when the muscles are cold. You should always warm up and stretch, especially when your lower back pain is flaring up.
Yoga poses and transitions can be a good place to start. Try cat-cow transitions and child’s pose-upward facing dog - these can be great movements to get the spine warm and flexible.
If you’re lifting weights, start off light and run through several sets. Focus on getting form and technique right as your muscles and joints open and warm up.
Try adding in five to ten minutes or gentle cardio before any workout. This can be a couple of more sedate laps of the pool if you’re swimming, or a nice walk to the gym before lifting.
6. Do regularly stretch out through lower back pain
You can keep yourself safe and limit lower back pain with the right stretches. Always stretch out after working out – especially the areas you’ve been focusing on that day – and consider performing five or ten minutes of stretches every evening.
As with warming up, there are various yoga poses that can work well, here. Try holding child’s pose for thirty seconds, before moving into cat pose for another thirty. End in cow pose for thirty seconds, then repeat a couple of times.
7. Do listen to your body
Don't be idle. However, as above, this doesn’t mean powering through pain. Listen to your body. It will respond to different things in different ways. You need to learn these different ways.
Certain exercises can make lower back pain worse.
Certain lifestyle factors can make lower back pain worse, too.
For instance, you may find that sitting for more than twenty minutes at a time can make your back hurt. Certain seated postures can make your lower back pain flare up – relying on your back rest and locking your knees out is a pretty common one. Listen to your body, here. Stand up every so often and walk around the room or office.
In fact, sitting for too long is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. It can cause ‘extension syndrome’, which will mean pain when standing. Try lying on your back for thirty seconds with your legs out straight. Then bend your knees, bringing your feet to rest on the ground just in front of your hips, and wait another 30 seconds. If your back feels better with bent legs, you may have extension syndrome.
Play around. Get to know your body, which positions work, which don’t. Learn how your lower back pain works and then work with it.
8. Do maintain good posture
Poor posture is both a leading cause and symptom of lower back pain. With poor posture, your centre of gravity will be forwards of where it should be, dragging your skeleton forwards and down.
The pelvis might be compensating, tilting to stabilize additional weight on the skeletal system. This becomes more profound in those who are overweight and becomes more profound the more overweight they are, as the pelvis takes on more force. This pelvic tilt will cause the muscles of the back to tighten.
Actively practice good posture. Work on your core strength, which will go a long way to helping with it. Practice exercise forms that improve your posture, like Pilates and yoga. Correct spinal alignment every couple of hours by standing straight, lining up head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet, and drawing your pelvis upwards and inwards.
Avoid situations that may hurt your posture. This can mean avoiding raised shoes with high heels or slouching on uncomfortable chairs.
9. Do get off dry land
Lower back pain can make the thought of conventional, gym-based exercise intimidating. However, you need never step into a gym if you don’t want to. The pool is always a good option. It is low-impact, well-supported, and adds a very healthy, gradual form of resistance.
Try anything from regular lengths (focussing on breaststroke for latissimus dorsi strength) to aquarobics. Also, consider trying out some pool-based physiotherapy to get started. You will be safe, strong, and healthy.
10. Don’t sweat it
Exercise can look like many different things. If you suffer from lower back pain, it can be very individual and very specific.
You don’t need to go to the gym five times per week to lift heavy and kill yourself sprinting on a treadmill. You don’t need to commit to hours and hours of yoga or callisthenics practice, or to swimming the English Channel.
Keep it small, simple, and manageable. This is true of anyone. It’s especially true to anyone with medical complications, like lower back pain and injury.
Try to get to the park each morning. Walk for half an hour at an easy pace. This is enough to keep you healthy. Go at your own pace in the gym or pool. Try a few different classes to see which one works for you. Don’t plump for the hardest class for the sake of it – ask yourself which inspires you more and works best for your physicality.
This is where true growth com
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Do’s and Don’ts with Low Back Pain - https://www.healthinfotranslations.org/pdfDocs/DoDontLowBack.pdf
Core strength exercises https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575?s=2