Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are one of the millions of people who complain of back pain. What you may not know is that exercise can help relieve this pain better than any medication that your doctor may prescribe. Honestly, those pills cover up the pain temporarily without addressing the underlying cause. This sets you up for more pain in the long run.
If you want a more long term solution to the problem of back pain, you have to develop strength in the muscles that support your back. Doing exercises and stretches for lower back pain that strengthen these muscles are the best ways to improve flexibility and reduce the chances of future back pain flareups.
To achieve the best results, you need a workout that incorporates resistance, aerobics and stretching exercises. Simple aerobic exercises, including bike riding and walking, will get your heart pumping and gently work your muscles to get your body properly conditioned.
Weight lifting and other resistance training is essential for strengthening your back’s support muscles. Stretching exercises give your back a greater range of motion by increasing flexibility in that region. You should seek a doctor’s advice to determine how much of each exercise you need and when you should be doing it.
Low impact aerobic exercises like walking, bike riding and swimming are best for those with lower back pain. Dance aerobics, jogging and step aerobics may leave you in worse pain by causing too much impact to your back, hip joints and knees.
The first week or two should be focused on conditioning your body. Begin with 15 minutes of low impact aerobics two to three days per week. From there, you can start to increase it to 30 or 40 minutes on four or five days a week. Your goal is to elevate your heart rate to 65% to 85% of its maximal rate. Subtract your age from 220 to figure out your maximal heart rate.
No matter what aerobic exercise you are doing, it is important to maintain good posture. When walking or riding your bike, keep your back straight and make sure that you are not leaning forward or slouching. Poor posture will sabotage any gains that you would get from your exercise routine.
The most important muscle group to focus on when doing resistance training is the abdominal muscles. Because these are the main muscles that support your back, strengthening them means greater back pain relief. Exercises that strengthen your actual lower back muscles are also essential to your routine. For best results, you need to work each muscle group 2 to 3 times weekly.
It is a good idea to seek the help of a qualified fitness trainer to assist you in developing a personalized resistance program. While many people use the old saying “no pain, no gain,” this should not apply to a workout designed to help your lower back.
It is normal to feel a little discomfort in the muscles you are working, but this should go away soon after you finish exercising. Talk to your doctor if you experience pain during the exercises or persistent discomfort afterwards as this is a sign that something is wrong.
When it comes to stretching, you can usually accomplish your goals with 10 to 15 minutes per day of moderate stretching. You hamstrings, those muscles and tendons in the back of your thighs, should be the main focus of your stretching routine. Loosening the hamstrings will help to reduce strain on your lower back. You must also stretch the lower back muscles.
The following exercise is great for stretching both the lower back and hamstring muscles:
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Your toes should be pointed up. Lean forward slowly and reach towards your toes until you can no longer comfortably go forward. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then slowly sit back up. Do this exercise 2 to 3 times daily.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or potion that will cure back pain. You can, however, use daily exercise to help you cope with lower back pain and hopefully reduce flareups. While it may seem difficult to start an exercise program, those 30 to 40 minutes 4 to 5 days a week will be worth it.