Should you exercise to relieve lower back pain? If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from lower back pain then it is important for you to know that simple exercise can help tremendously. In fact, there’s something about exercise that sometimes gives longer lasting benefits than pills, massage or surgery. This is because the right exercises will fortify the muscles that support your lumbar region and at the same time will help to make you more limber. Improved support and flexibility are the two main things that will off-set any future back twinges or spasms.
Before you start with any exercise program you should first check with your doctor to give you the green light. Any good program for your back should be a mix of stretching, resistance, and aerobic type of exercises. You will get more limber and flexible from a simple stretching program. A resistance or strength training program doing exercises through a pain-free range of motion will give added support. Aerobic exercise helps with needed circulation and is best accomplished with gentle activities such as riding a bike or walking.
Stretching exercises should never be painful. If there is any pain when stretching, stop immediately. The best stretching exercise for the lower back almost always includes the hamstring muscles. These are located on the back side of your thighs and are sometimes called thigh biceps. Usually if you are tight in your hamstrings, you may also have issues with your lower back.
A good stretching exercise for your lower back is to sit on the floor with your legs out flat and feet out in front of you. Then gently reach forward to touch your toes until you feel a slight pull. If you can’t touch your toes it’s okay. Hold the stretch for about seven seconds and then sit up straight again. Repeat a few times. This stretch should be done every day. You might also try investing some time in a yoga class. There are many gentle and safe yoga poses that are helpful in relieving chronic back pain.
For resistance exercise, movements that directly affect your lower back are important but believe it or not, the abdominal and pelvic muscles are essential for supporting your lower back. More often than not, the reason why the back gets hurt in the first place is because there is little opposing support for these muscles—namely, support from the abdomen and pelvic girdle musculature. It is important to get qualified instruction to know which exercises are best from a fitness trainer.
If there is any pain when doing strength/resistance exercises stop immediately. It is okay to feel some stress or pressure on the part you are working but you should never exercise through pain. If this happens, go to your health professional to have yourself checked.
As for aerobic exercise, all movements should be as low impact as possible. Exercises such as walking, swimming, step aerobics and treadmill are all excellent. Low impact movements will alleviate wear and tear on your hip and knee joints as well. If you are not already in good condition, start slowly and increase the effort and duration at your own pace as it feels natural to you over time. Exercising two to three times a week is plenty. You should stretch a little after doing aerobics.
How hard should you work out aerobically? There is a formula for this: You subtract your age from 220 and then multiply this by any number between 65 to 85 percent to get what is called your target heart rate. When beginning a program, however, form is more important at first. Intensity will come later. And again, it can’t be overemphasized to consult first with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
There is no mystery to taking care of your back. It is all about exercise, rest, maintenance and sticking to a back pain relief program that you can tolerate—if not enjoy--doing on a regular basis. Exercising to help relieve lower back pain should be a part of your own personal physical therapy. Take care of your back and it will take care of you.