Five Ways to Ease Back Pain - While Keeping Up With Your Exercise Routine
Over 80% of Americans suffer from low back pain. Exercise should be part of the solution to low back pain - not part of the problem. Today we cover five easy things you can do to keep up with your exercise routine even if you’re dealing with low back pain.
1. Warm Up
It’s important to prepare your muscles and joints for the work they are about to do (not taking your body from 0 to 100 so to speak). A proper warm up should involve some light cardio movements to lubricate our joints and get the blood moving with dynamic mobilization exercises to prepare our muscles for higher intensity work. Here’s an easy full body warm up we use to get ready for exercise.
Important to note: Studies are beginning to show that static stretching is not an effective warm up and does not decrease injury risk.
The new craze in fitness is boot camps and small group classes. Generally, these classes create a set workout with movements that all participants do. Most movements can be progressed/regressed to fit client needs. If a movement is causing back pain, or it feels unsafe, don't be afraid to ask a coach/trainer to adjust workouts to fit your situation.
Example of Plank Progressions from Easiest to Hardest
Knee Plank - Elbow Plank - High Plank - High Plank Leg Lifts - High Plank SHoulder Touches - Quadruped SHoulder Touches - Bear Crawl
3. Listen to Your Body
Many group fitness classes post workouts done for time. The workout is done after you've completed a certain amount of reps of a few different movements. The problem arises when we become so immersed in completing the workout that we quit paying attention to what our body is telling us. Form deteriorates as we fatigue. Performing 20 lunges is different than performing 20 correct lunges. Slow down and listen to your body. Your 'time' may suffer, but your back will thank you afterwards.
4. Schedule in ‘Active Rest’ Days
One of the most common mistakes we see people make when getting back into shape is to overdo it. Seven days a week of high intensity weight training doesn’t give our joints and muscles enough time to recover. Rest doesn’t mean we quit cold turkey. Active Rest are days where we can still incorporate movement, but with lighter, lower impact movements.
5. Know Your ‘Why’
It’s important to ask ourselves what our goals are when it comes to our exercise routine. If you’re a 45 year old mother or two, do you care if you can back squat 200 lbs? Or are your goals related to maintaining your active lifestyle - not having to slow down? While many people do have performance goals (lift heavier, run faster), a larger majority are there as a stress reliever - feeling part of a community - or other non performance related goals. Understanding your reasons for going to the gym will help you avoid activities which put your back at greater risk for injury.
Most of our clients are active adults who actively participate in exercise/fitness routines. One of our favorite clients came to us after suffering for months with back pain that seemed to be aggravated after her workouts. Giving up her workouts was not an option as it’s a necessary stress reliever from her high stress job and she also loves all the other members. After breaking down her movement patterns and a month of care that combined full body chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy with his custom exercise plan to improve her movement and strength she is back in the gym - pain free!
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