Using Exercise to Treat Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is characterized by pain that lasts for at least three months. Chronic back pain is more than just annoying; it can be debilitating and compromise your quality of life. You may be unable to participate in your favorite hobbies, join in events with your friends and family, and may even be unable to work at your job. Most doctors will recommend that you try conservative treatments at home for your chronic back pain before they’ll allow you to move on to other treatment options. Those typically include rest, over-the-counter medications, and probably the last thing in the world you want to be doing: exercise.

It might seem counterintuitive to get up and exercise when you are experiencing back pain. But for some back pain condition, it can be extremely effective. That makes it worth fighting those feelings that you just want to rest on the couch. Being inactive for more than just a day or two could actually make your condition worse. Before you undertake any new exercise routine, though, you should check with your physician to make sure it’s right for you.

Why Exercise Works for Back Pain

  • It can help you shed excess weight. Carrying those extra pounds around can put more pressure on your spine. That can increase the pain you are experiencing in your back and even make existing conditions worse. Dropping the weight may help to reverse some of those symptoms.
  • It strengthens the muscles in your back. Exercise that builds up the strength in your back can help support the rest of your spine. The stronger your back muscles are, the less pressure is placed on the spine itself.
  • It can help relieve tension. Many people develop back problems when they are stressed. They might hold their stress and tension in their back and shoulders. A good workout can not only help you burn off some stress but release endorphins into your bloodstream that lower your stress level and make you feel better.
  • It helps stretch your back. Certain exercises, like yoga, can help stretch out the mechanics of the back. Everything in your back is designed to move with your body, bending and twisting as needed. When those mechanics don’t have the range of motion that they should have, it can cause pain.
  • It reduces your chance of being injured. When your muscles are strong, you have good balance, and your range of motion is good, you are less likely to be injured. And even if you are, your body will be better at healing itself.

What Activities Are Best

  • Walking. Even if it’s a simple stroll around the block, a little walking can go a long way towards helping with your back pain. Start with a pace and distance that you feel comfortable with and then try to slowly increase how long and how fast you are walking. Many back pain sufferers choose to walk instead of run, which can put more pressure on your joints.
  • Yoga. This is an excellent method for not only stretching your back, but building up your muscle strength and your balance as well. You can join in a local class or look for videos online that specifically target back pain sufferers. Take it easy and if something hurts, stop the movement and relax for a few minutes.
  • Cycling. Cycling is another low-impact option that can help strengthen your arm, leg, and back muscles. The movement is fluid so it won’t jolt or stress your back. Start with a short ride on a stationary bike and see how it affects your back; if it’s positive, increase your time slowly and build up your intensity.
  • Dancing. With or without a partner, dancing is an excellent way to get in daily exercise for your back. Dancing keeps your back moving and increases your range of motion. You’ll want to start with simple, low-impact moves before you graduate to the more complicated stuff. Even dancing in your kitchen to the radio can be beneficial, as long as you take it easy.
  • Lifting weights. Aerobic exercise is important to your back health, but strength training is, too. This will help build up those muscles that support your spine and relieve any pressure that’s being placed on the mechanics in your back. You may benefit from working with a personal trainer the first time so they can evaluate the right exercises and weights for your needs.

Doing any of these exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day, minimum, can help your body recover from back pain.

Get Your Exercise In the Water

Another great way to get more exercise for lower back pain sufferers is by getting in the water. Swimming, water aerobics, and even Aqua Zumba are all terrific activities that can help your back recovery from pain and injury. The water creates a low impact environment where you may find you can do moves that you wouldn’t normally be able to manage on land. Plus, the water provides both a natural support for your back as well as natural resistance to build up your muscles. Check with your local pools and gyms for water-based exercise classes. Many of them will offer classes that focus on low-impact and joint recovery exercises.

Don’t Forget to Keep Up Those Daily Activities, Too

While adding a new exercise to your routine can be helpful, it can be beneficial to simply keep up your daily activities as well. That means continuing to run errands like going to the grocery store, picking up your kids from school, and even taking the dog out for a walk. You might need to take things a little slower as well as take frequent breaks, but staying active can help you avoid becoming sedentary, which can lead to more back problems.

Still Suffering From Back Pain? Get a Free MRI Review Today

If you’ve done everything that you can for your chronic back pain, including exercise, but are still suffering from painful symptoms, then it’s time to make an appointment with International Spine Institute. We offer complimentary MRI reviews to help you diagnose your back pain and discover potential treatment options that may be right for you. Make your appointment by giving us a call or contact us through our website.