How Working Out Helps Keep Pain Away
For years, patients and medical professionals have debated the question of whether exercise is good for back pain or whether it makes it worse.
Research has found that movement can help with back pain, and during the last decade, the opinion of the medical community has shifted away from bed rest and toward exercise, even for those who did not previously work out every day. However, when doctors recommend exercise to their patients, they often encounter a hurdle: the patient’s fear of making pain worse.
The most fearful patients often stand to benefit the most from exercise, simply because it can give them a different view of the relationship between pain and exercise. Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise can increase mobility and help circulation, and strengthening the core muscles closest to the spine can protect against future pain.
How to Begin
If you have a chronic pain condition like lower back pain or hip, knee, or shoulder problems, you shouldn’t begin an exercise program without guidance.
An experienced chiropractor will typically do a postural assessment to observe how you sit, stand, and walk to help determine what exercises may be appropriate, given your condition. Postural imbalances, for instance, carrying a child on one hip or a bag on one shoulder can trigger pain in the back, hips, knees, and shoulders.
Some simple, safe stretches that can help alleviate back pain include:
- Lie on your back on a carpeted floor or mat and rest your legs on a couch, chair, or ottoman, so that your legs are completely supported from the heels to the back of the knees.
- Lie on a stability ball, face down, and let your body mold to the sides of the ball.
- Try the “happy baby” yoga pose: lie on your back and hold your knees to your chest.
- Perform squats to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Exercises to Help Chronic Pain
Beyond simple stretches, one of the most important types of exercise to improve chronic back and joint pain is cardiovascular exercise. Some types to try include:
- Walking briskly on a treadmill
- Using an elliptical trainer
- Aquatic exercise, from swimming laps to an organized water aerobics class
In addition to cardiovascular training, try strength training, either with free weights or machines to guide movement and simulate support. Pilates and yoga can help improve core strength and flexibility.
Exercises to Avoid
Those with back and joint problems that cause significant pain should typically avoid high-impact exercise like running or organized sports like basketball and soccer, which involve jumping, landing, shifting, and moving in a lot of different directions.
Golf and tennis tend to put a great deal of strain on the back because they use one side of the body more than the other. Although you don’t necessarily need to give them up entirely, just cut back a bit or find other ways to strengthen the neglected side of the body, such as Pilates or rotating exercises with a medicine ball.
Exercise and Pain Relief
Although chronic back pain can reduce a person’s quality of life, the right exercise program can dramatically improve it. There’s no reason to be sitting around the house in pain.
If you’re thinking of starting an exercise program, the doctors at Tuck Chiropractic Clinic can give you the advice you need to proceed safely.
Image by wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo.
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