Are you struggling with back pain? Is your pain keeping you from enjoying your favorite activities? Back pain can be severely debilitating. It can keep you from enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle. You may be able to lessen or even eliminate your pain with exercise. Before we go any further, if you are experiencing chronic back problems please go see your doctor, make sure that your back is structurally sound and that there are no other reasons you shouldn’t be exercising.
One of the most difficult things to get past when it comes to any kind of pain is fear. For years doctors prescribed rest and said, “just be careful not do too much”. When you hear this you start to wonder if any activity might worsen your pain and lead to greater injury. In recent years doctors have done a complete 180 on treating back pain. Today most doctors are prescribing exercise and increased activity to patients. That doesn’t mean the idea of being more active when you have pain isn’t scary. World class athletes can have difficulty overcoming this fear. Pain is an instinctual fear and putting the thought of increased pain aside is essential to reestablishing a healthy back.
One of the leading causes of back pain is inactivity. Inactivity leads to weaker muscles around the spine and increases the risk of injury. This is the reason doctors have moved toward prescribing increased exercise as method to relieve pain. Exercise, as opposed to rest, is generally more beneficial for the relief of back pain. For low back pain specifically you should focus your exercise regimen on the abdominal (stomach) muscles, the glutes (buttocks), quadriceps (front of the thighs), hips and back muscles. All of these core muscles provide strength and stability to the spine.
The core is an area that is often overlooked or under emphasized in training programs. We’re not just talking about sit-ups here. We’re talking about the entire midsection and the muscles deeper in the abdomen that provide the most support to the spine. Exercises like planks, side planks, superman and back extension really focus on the deep core muscles that protect and stabilize the spine. Also, you need to focus on the legs, hips and glutes with your exercise. Having strong legs, hips and buttocks all work to stabilize the spine and can help prevent injury to your lower back.
Cardiovascular exercise is also important in relieving and preventing back pain. Aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart and will make sure your muscles are getting more oxygen-rich blood which makes the muscles healthier. Some people have difficulty with cardio machines actually causing pain. If that is the case start with a walking program along with core strengthening exercises and eventually those machines that caused back pain will become much more tolerable.
Staying active with exercise is going to improve your overall health as well as help control your back pain. Don’t let back pain control your life. Start exercising the pain away and get back to a more active, healthy lifestyle.
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Steve is a NFPT Certified Personal Trainer with over 15 years of experience training athletes as well as private clients. For expert fitness advice, instructional exercise videos, printable workout routines and 4 or 8 week workout programs visit www.workoutvillage.com.
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