One of the best ways to lesson back pain and maintain a healthy spine is to perform back exercises. Although it’s common for patients to think they should stay in bed or stop all exercising when their back is acting up, resting for more than a couple of days can actually make back pain worse. As with any exercise regimen, you should check with a professional like NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC before embarking on a workout program. The doctor will help you create a balanced exercise plan that is safe and beneficial for you.
When performed carefully and correctly, exercises for treating back pain can have many benefits including:
- Strengthening muscles that support the spine
- Improving flexibility
- Alleviating soreness
- Improving circulation
- Reducing pain severity when it occurs
Regular stretching of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons supporting the spine
is one key element of a good back exercise program. Stretching can improve your range of motion, reduce muscle tension, and lower your risk of disability from back pain. Chronic pain may require weeks or months of regular stretching to improve the symptoms. A physician like NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer or a physical therapist are qualified to recommend the best stretching exercises for your back pain. Some general guidelines for stretching are to move slowly, do not force your body into painful positions, hold stretches at least 15-30 seconds, repeat each stretch 2-5 times, and stretch one side of the body at a time.
Another important element of back exercise is strengthening, which conditions the muscles to provide better support of your spine. Most exercises for this purpose focus on your core muscles, such as your abdominal and gluteus muscles, as well as muscles along your spine. It is imperative that you perform exercises specific to strengthening your core, since those muscles usually don’t get much use during normal daily activities. Some of the most common back strengthening exercises include yoga, pilates, weight lifting, tai chi, resistance bands, and exercise balls. Including strengthening exercises several times a week in your exercise program will go a long way in alleviating your back pain.
Low impact aerobics
Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and improves your circulation, both of which helps reduce stiffness and improve blood flow to your spine. Low impact activities elevate your heart rate without the damaging aspect of jarring your spine, which may exacerbate back pain. Popular examples of low impact aerobic exercise are walking, swimming, water aerobics, riding a stationary bike, or using an elliptical machine. NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer usually recommends that patients work out for 30 minutes from 3-5 times a week, although some patients may need shorter intervals and gradually increase to longer workouts. Consult your physician for the best overall exercise routine to improve your back pain and your quality of life.