You don’t want to avoid exercising if you are suffering from chronic back pain. Most doctors, physical therapists, or trainers will recommend some form of exercise to help speed your recovery. What is essential, however, is to avoid any activities that exacerbate the pain. When your doctor recommends exercise to improve your back pain, avoid routines that could hinder your recovery, and choose alternatives that will benefit you.
Where to Begin
If you are in severe pain, the best exercise is to walk. Walking boosts circulation and sends a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to where it hurts. The activity will reduce inflammation and decrease your discomfort. It’s essential to strengthen key muscles surrounding the back to help support it and decrease the likelihood of further pain. However, specific exercises detailed below can cause more harm, and you should avoid them.
Four Exercises That Can Inflame Lower Back Pain
- A common issue amongst most people with lower back pain is a weak core. For this reason, sit-ups place an enormous strain on your spine when you move from lying flat to sitting upright. Because your front muscles don’t power you as you sit up, the low back must take on the brunt of the work, increasing your pain. A way to get your upper abs worked without putting a strain on the lower back is to practice half-crunches at a 20-degree angle. Your shoulders will only come up five to six inches off the floor, eliminating the strain on your back.
- Squatting down to raise a barbell with your lower back rounded will compress your vertebral discs. Rather than risk further injury, try doing leg presses on a machine. The leg presses will strengthen your hamstring and glutes, just like deadlifts will, but the leg presses eliminate the pressure on your back.
- While burpees activate the majority of muscles in your upper and lower body, they are a terrible idea if you have ever had a history of back pain. Dropping down into a pushup and then bouncing back up into a jump involves explosive, high-impact movements that will aggravate back pain. Instead, take a few minutes to accomplish some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) by only getting your heart rate up by walking briskly or stepping up the pace on an elliptical. Neither of these choices will increase back pain. Your cardiovascular health will improve without hurting your back.
- Tight hamstrings are one of the leading causes of back pain. While it is a good idea to stretch those hamstrings, toe-touches can put pressure on your spine, especially if you sit for much of the day. A safer alternative is to lay on your back with your legs extended. Bring one knee to the chest and grasp it with both hands for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat it with the other leg. Since you are flat on the ground, your spine stays in neutral alignment.
If you take care in the way you exercise and follow your doctor’s recommendations, you will alleviate pain and return to your old self in no time. We look forward to working with you to achieve your goals.
Please contact us so that our doctors can properly evaluate and help you find the best exercise routine to help you manage your chronic back pain.