Pain sucks … and can be a literal pain in the back. Nowadays, your doctor is more likely to tell you to exercise instead of chill in bed when your back is sore. There have been a ton of studies showing that yoga or weightlifting can reduce back pain and disability dramatically. On the other hand, if it hurts to move, you could be afraid to even lace up your gym shoes. Talk about a catch-22!
You may feel like you’re trapped. You know that becoming stronger and more flexible will eventually provide relief, but it’s difficult to begin the healing process.
Learn how to shape up without aggravating your aching back. You may be surprised at all the safe activities you can choose from.
Back-friendly Guidelines for Working Out
- Talk with your doctor. Back pain comes in many different forms, from a sprained ligament to sciatica. Your doctor can advise you on whether you need to exercise more or take a break.
- Strengthen your core. When you’re ready to work out, it’s essential to firm up your abdominals and other muscles in your torso that stabilize your entire body. You’ll enhance your posture and lessen the strain on your lower back. This was a huge lesson I learned while skating in the Atlanta Roller Derby Rec League. As my core got stronger, my back ached less.
- Increase circulation. Blocked arteries may be causing discomfort in your lower back. Cardiovascular training will increase blood flow. I love using Peppermint and Cypress essential oils to help improve circulation. I just rub where I hurt! I also use doTERRA’s Deep Blue Rub for fast relief.
- Stretch your hips. Tightness in your hips can be a sign of pinched nerves. To open up that area and relieve the pressure, try gentle low lunges or rock back and forth while sitting on a foam roller.
- Target your back. As long as your doctor approves and your pain is less than severe, you can begin exercises that will strengthen your back. Training for flexibility and strength will speed up your recovery.
- Enjoy the effort. Changing your mindset makes any back condition easier to bear, especially if you’ve been sedentary up until now. Distinguish between moderate exertion and overdoing it. It’s usually okay to keep moving as long as you feel no acute strain. Find activities you like and invite a friend to join you.
Safe Exercises for Your Back
- Take a walk. Most doctors encourage walking for back patients, and it’s often the first activity recommended after surgery. It offers many of the benefits of running with lighter impact, especially if you stick to soft surfaces.
- Jump in the pool. Water is also great for allowing you to move around without jarring your spine. You can jog or do aerobics in the pool, or just swim laps.
- Practice yoga. Yoga poses strengthen and stretch your body while they calm your mind. It can be an all-purpose solution for the emotional stress that comes along with a chronic back condition. Plus, poses like pigeon and lizard work wonders for loosening up your hips. Scroll down for what the Pigeon Pose looks like … it’s such an amazing feeling.
- Use isometrics. Isometrics are especially useful for rehabilitation because you contract the muscle without a large range of motion. Be sure to include a variety of movements and avoid holding your breath.
- Buy an exercise ball. Want an inexpensive and fun prop that will turn ordinary activities into effective exercises for your back? Sit on an exercise ball while you’re watching television or talking on the phone. Depending on your workplace, you may even be able to use it at your desk.
- Try a new machine. Treadmills can be hard on your back, but there are many other options. Take a look at elliptical machines or recumbent bicycles that provide many of the same benefits with less strain.
You can lead an active life without increasing your back pain. In fact, strong muscles and good posture will lessen your symptoms and reduce future flare-ups. With regular exercise, you’ll be able to manage your condition and resume doing the things you love.