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Exercise Your Way Out of Lower Back Pain

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Exercise Your Way Out of Lower Back Pain

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Dec 14, 2021

If your lower back is hurting, chances are you just want to lay around and rest your back. The thought of exercising may sound like it will hurt or worsen your condition. Surprisingly, experts like spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City say that the opposite is true. It is better to perform safe activities and exercises under a doctor’s care than it is to avoid movement.

Who is at risk for lower back pain?
There are many things that can contribute to lower back pain. Some of these include:

  • Age: risk increases around age 30 to 40
  • Lack of activity: weak muscles in your back and abdomen do not provide good support
  • Excess weight: carrying extra body weight stresses your back
  • Improper lifting: using your back instead of your legs to lift can damage your back
  • Health conditions: some diseases like arthritis or cancer can cause back pain
  • Depression: depression and anxiety have been linked to lower back pain
  • Smoking: smokers have a higher occurrence of back pain

Why should I exercise with lower back pain?
There are proven benefits that exercise provides for people with back pain. Some advantages to keep in mind are:

  • Increasing the blood flow delivers important nutrients and oxygen to your back
  • Strengthening muscles makes them more capable of supporting your body and relieving pressure on your spine
  • Losing weight or avoiding weight gain is better for your back
  • Increasing flexibility allows you to move more freely and avoid strain
  • Releasing endorphins into your body can reduce pain, lower stress, and improve mental health

What types of exercises are good for me?
Focus on exercises that stretch and strengthen your body. Dr. Fischer can provide suggestions for exercises that are beneficial for your lower back. It is especially important to focus on muscles that support and stabilize the spine, such as your core muscles. Yoga may be one good choice for those wishing to alleviate lower back pain.

What exercises should I avoid?
Do not perform exercises that involve lots of twisting or torqueing the spine. Also avoid exercises that are hard on your joints, such as the high impact moves required during running or basketball. Be careful about weightlifting, especially when you are lifting weights above your head and shoulders. This movement can stress the spine and worsen back pain. Another thing to watch out for is the type of sit-ups you choose. It is beneficial to strengthen your abdominal muscles, but make sure you are not placing added pressure on your spinal discs or ligaments. Dr. Fischer can offer suggestions of safe ways to exercise with the goal of improving your lower back pain instead of exacerbating it.

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