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The Keys to Back Pain: Stretching and Strengthening

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The Keys to Back Pain: Stretching and Strengthening

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • May 31, 2020

If you are experiencing back pain, whether it is sudden and severe or chronic and nagging, it is almost always better to be active rather than sedentary. As long as you make sure your physician agrees, there are things you can do for yourself to help ease your pain and promote healing. One of these is performing exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and core.

Follow doctor’s orders
It is always best to pursue an exercise program under the supervision of a qualified physician like New York City spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center. This can improve many aspects of your overall health, including your spinal health. The primary goal is to build and maintain strong, flexible muscles that will allow you to perform activities you enjoy and prevent injuries. If you have sudden severe back pain, exercise can help you return to your daily activities sooner and without pain. If you experience chronic back pain, exercise may allow you to reach your goals and improve your quality of life.

Stop if it hurts
Dr. Fischer is clear to patients that any exercise program should be personalized for your body and its needs, especially if you are experiencing back problems. Begin the approved exercises gradually and stop if it hurts. If you have been exercising for a while and experience back pain, stop and evaluate your condition. If you resume exercise, begin slowly and gradually build back up to the level where you stopped. Don’t suddenly resume exercise at the same level, such as length of time, repetitions, or intensity, because your body needs to regain its conditioning. 

Target the right muscles
The most important muscle groups when it comes to back pain are the back and abdominal muscles. Stretching and strengthening these muscles are key to improving back pain and preventing recurrences of the problem. Strong abdominal muscles on the front of your mid-section improve your posture, as well as strong extensor muscles that go down your back. Also focus on strengthening your buttock muscles that support your back and hips. Your upper legs are also important because if they are weak and inflexible, your back may not get the support it needs to remain healthy.

Don’t forget to stretch
It may be easy to neglect stretching, but if you want a pain-free back you will need to make it part of your exercise routine. You will be less prone to injuries, such as strains or sprains, when your muscles and tissues are flexible. Perform gentle stretches as recommended by Dr. Fischer.  Avoid bouncing or pushing too far without gradually building up your stretches. Hold stretches for a short time at first and then increase the time and range of movement as you continue your exercise regimen.

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