How to Exercise Away Back Pain

If you suffer from back pain, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. However, exercise might be something to help with your back pain--but only if you do it right. Before you start any exercises, and especially if you have back pain, you need to consult with your doctor. If you have a back or neck injury such as herniated discs, there will be certain exercises or activities that your doctor will not want you to do.

Once you've checked with your doctor and have a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t do, it’s time to get started!

Building Your Core to Strengthen and Align Your Spine

 Any exercise that helps build your core will ultimately help back pain. A reason that many people have back pain is because they have weak abdominal strength. When you have a stronger core, your spinal column is better aligned and supported. Core exercises help to train the muscles in your abdomen, back, pelvis, and hips to work in harmony. When everything works correctly, you build stability, which helps prevent injury.

Pilates and Yoga not only build your core, but they also work to elongate the spine and help you to practice proper posture. So much of what we do everyday is bad for our necks and back, from hunching over desks and slumping while watching tv, to looking down at smartphones for hours on end.

The postures found in Pilates and Yoga work to elongate the neck and spine and help restore greater alignment, all while building your core.

Get in the Water to Exercise with Back Pain

A great exercise for people suffering with back pain is swimming. Swimming provides aerobic exercise and puts little to no impact and stress on your body. This means no impact on your bones and your spine. Additionally, swimming will help build the muscles in your back and core. Swimming is also great because you can do it at any age and fitness level. There are many opportunities and ways you can swim, from swimming laps in a pool to joining a group pool exercise class at your local YMCA.

Exercises to Avoid if you Suffer from Back Pain

If you have back pain, exercises to stay away from include lifting heavy weights and jogging. While it is true that jogging can build your core, the shock your spine absorbs every time your foot pounds on the pavement may not make it worth your while.

Also, while lifting weights helps build bone density and can also build your core, you run a tremendous risk of straining your back and neck, especially if you use improper technique or lift extremely heavy weights. Even if you do not suffer from neck or back pain, if you are going to get into weightlifting, we suggest training with a certified physical trainer who can supervise and provide proper technique.

You might have the idea that stretching your spine will help back pain, and think a good way to do so is to bend over and touch your toes. But don’t do it! When you have back pain, bending over to touch your toes puts a lot of pressure on the spine, which could exacerbate any issues you are already having. It is also easy to overstretch in this position, which can lead to more injuries.

You also want to avoid full sit-ups for the same reason; they put too much pressure on the spine. Most people also perform sit-ups with improper technique, and end up relying on their hips and pelvis to do the work.

Regular exercise should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Even if you suffer from back pain, you can find ways to build your core and decrease your pain if you are mindful of the exercises you choose.

Dr. Donald Hope