Low back pain is a very common complaint, and back exercise can help by stretching your commonly used muscles. Strength training is also advised, as weak musculature in areas like your stomach can contribute to your spine and lower back having to work too hard to maintain your posture. Posture can be greatly improved as well, through better habits, stretching and exercise. Your back pain may be mild, causing you only slight discomfort that can be relieved through the use of an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. You might be at the other end of the spectrum, however, with severe pain that “locks” you up, causing extreme pain upon movement. While the former can be relieved at home through an exercise regimen, the latter needs to be addressed by a doctor.
If your pain is mild to moderate, consider making a few life changes. For example, the way you sit at your desk or in your car can wreak havoc on your lower back. Slumping or rounding one’s back is a horrible habit that many adults are guilty of. Paying attention to your posture, keeping your shoulders back at all times, and putting a small pillow at the base of your back can all help you by relieving strain on your lower back. Movement is another cure for back pain; do not let fear of injury stop you from gently moving your back in activities such as swimming or walking, both of which are easy on the spine.
Back exercise can come in the form of strengthening exercises, repetitive movements that train your muscles to be more supportive. Pilates or other “core” strengthening exercises are a great way to increase muscle mass in the center of your body, offering better support to your spine and extremities. They gently work the muscles in a way that stretches as it tones, offering greater flexibility and strength to the areas that support your spine and lower back the most. Pilates often incorporates the use of a large inflatable ball, that you use to stretch your spine and abdominal muscles, or hand and foot weights, to increase the resistance while doing the routines. Swimming is great work for back muscles as well, combining aerobic exercise with stretching and muscle strengthening in a low gravity environment is easier on your back, yet still offers the same great benefits as other, more strenuous activity.
As with any exercise program, and especially if you suffer from any level of back pain, get advice from a doctor when you begin any new exercise program. Steer clear of any exercise like straight leg sit-ups, bent leg sit-ups, or leg lifts, or any other activity that will have you moving in a severe manner. A physical therapist or licensed trainer can help you find what works for you, too, setting up a personalized training regimen that will focus on your core and posture. Often, insurance plans will cover such preventative and rehabilitative measures; check with your doctor and policy to find out what your coverage includes.
Written By: Updated: June 23,2011