Let’s talk about exercising and back pain…
Last week one of my patients asked me a question…
And it’s one that always gets asked, no matter the time of year!
“Is it ok to exercise when my back is hurting? I’ve just got into a good routine sticking to the gym and working out three times a week, and I really don’t want to stop…”
I understand the frustration, and I know that the thought of doing any movement when you’re going through some kind of pain might feel a little scary…
You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it any more in case it turns into something more serious.
You don’t want to go “too hard” in the gym in case you pull another muscle or make it worse.
And you don’t want to wake up one day to find you can’t roll out of bed easily, walk down the road, or even drive because you made it worse through exercise.
Don’t let that worry you too much – it’s rarely ever the case!
An aching lower back doesn’t mean you’ve got to be housebound with heat packs and ice packs until it magically disappears.
You CAN keep moving!
Not moving at all can make your back pain worse!
If you suffer from back pain that comes and goes, gentle walking with exercises designed to improve lower back strength and movement added in, will make a big difference.
Walking is a natural movement that keeps joints mobile and muscles working – even those in your feet, legs, hips and torso – which play an important role in keeping the muscles in your back that hold you up right, strong.
Walking and stretching will improve your backs strength, flexibility and posture, which can help stop back pain from creeping up on you when you least expect it.
What’s more, it can also reduce how painful it feels and how much it gets in the way of day to day life.
The important question to answer now that you know it’s 100% OK to exercise even if you’ve got a bad back…
What exercise can you actually be doing?
Of course, too much exercise, or strenuous exercise could make it worse or keep it hanging around longer.
There’s lots of false beliefs around Yoga – “you’ve got to be flexible” etc. – you can ditch those false beliefs because it’s for anyone!
Yoga helps build strength.
Yoga requires you to concentrate on specific muscles in the body when holding poses – many of which improve back strength.
When these muscles are stronger your back pain can be reduced and is less likely to affect you as bad as it once did.
Yoga also relaxes the body and reduces any tension in stress-carrying muscles (a.k.a your back!)
For people with lower back pain, stretching is important.
Stretching the muscles in your legs actually help to increase range of movement in your hips, taking the stress off your lower back – which increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, taking care of the muscles in your back.
It’s also one of the best forms of exercise to maintain and improve a healthy posture.
Great for your back, stopping back pain in its tracks and it feels great when you can walk around confident and tall.
There you have it, gentle walks and yoga.
Both of these will help you gain back strength in your back, so you can return to doing the exercise you love the most.