If the results of your exercising sessions involve pain, then something has to change. Fortunately, chiropractors have been helping people actually enjoy their exercise sessions, and feel relief, rather than pain. If you have back pain and have been avoiding exercising, these tips might help you get back into the gym.
With more than $100 billion being spent on chronic back pain in the US alone, taking advice from chiropractors is a necessity. Studies show that back pain is one of the most expensive medical problems in the world. Chiropractors can help you make better choices while exercising or not exercising to find relief for your back pain.
Some of the worst mistakes for people with back pain is to stop moving. If you lay around because your back hurts, it might actually get worse. One of the best choices for finding some relief from back pain is to take a short walk. Studies have found that walking can serve as an intervention for back pain.
The studies that looked at walking as an intervention saw that it does help people get back to normal activities when compared to bed rest. Some research also found that non-specific activities, like walking, were better than exercises geared to the back.
With back-friendly stretches, you can silence the spasms. There are several gentle stretches that help ease pain in the low back. Try these stretches:
- While standing, put your hands on your glutes (where back pockets would be), arch your back as you look up toward the sky. Hold for a breath or two, and repeat a few times.
- Start by laying on the floor on your belly. While bending the elbows, place your hands flat on the floor as if you were doing a push up. Then, lift your head and chest. This a replica of the first stretch, but in a prone position. Keep your legs on the floor and point or flex your toes - whatever is more comfortable. Hold for a few breaths and repeat as needed.
- While seated in a supportive chair with your feet flat on the floor, put your palms flat on your thighs. Then, arch your back forward and look up at the ceiling as you inhale. On the exhale, arch your back toward the back of the chair and look at your thighs. Repeat on the inhales and exhales, as needed.
As you get up from your chair or your bed, your back might hurt for a moment. This could be due to your posture, a pinched nerve, or the discomfort could be something more serious like extension syndrome. If you find that your back hurts in certain postures, you should avoid those. Or talk to your chiropractor about how to fix the problem. You might even need treatment for a pinched nerve in your back
The old rule of exercising until it hurts is not a good idea for someone who has any type of back pain. While it is often helpful to move, build strength, and flexibility, people with back pain should do exercises that remedy the situation, not exacerbate it. If you find that aerobic movement brings you discomfort, then do stretches and stabilization exercises. Some people find planks to be helpful. If full-planks hurt, put your knees down and build strength that way. When you have back pain, your exercises should be all about calming the pain. Don’t Slump or Slouch Pay attention to the way you sit and stand. All too often, we look down at computer screens or mobile phones. This creates problems in the upper and mid-back. Studies are calling this new problem “tech neck,” and it does not just happen to teens and young adults. People who are overweight are also prone to slouching. Women who wear high-heeled shoes also tend to have spinal problems due to posture misalignment. Your spine is meant to be erect, and if you slouch or slump, it will respond with pain and discomfort.
Your chiropractor can help you with adjustments and exercise suggestions, but you have to become aware of how you are sitting and standing. When the pelvis is out of alignment, the spine has to compensate. So, stand up straight and sit up straight. If you sit all day, get up regularly so you can give your pelvis a break. To help yourself, you have to be mindful of your posture throughout the day.
If you are planning on exercising, take time to warm up - even if only for a few minutes. Repeated studies find that warm-up exercises help prevent injuries. The best warm ups are exercises that mimic what you will be doing. So, if you are going to run, stretch your legs and walk a little. If you are doing resistance exercises, stretch your back and core. Warm ups can be as short as 5 to 15 minutes. Those few minutes can save you hours or days of back pain.
Many people are injured when they attempt to lift too much or attempt high-impact moves. When you exercise, don’t overdo it, or you will feel it. It is important to listen to your body and make subtle increases rather than big changes.
The weekend-warrior often is injured as they might join in a pick-up basketball game after not playing for several years. Don’t let your ego hurt your body. The same goes for newbies at a gym. Many people are injured because they use free weights that are too heavy. Instead, use the machines for support.
Instead of the high-impact exercises that put pressure on the joints, try low-impact moves on stationary bikes or elliptical machines. Many people with low-back pain enjoy swimming as gravity practically disappears. There are several safe options that help the back rather than hurt it.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services including chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehab therapy designed to help give long-lasting relief to Anchorage and Juneau patients.
He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
Dr. Brent Wells