Did you know back pain is one of the most common #health complaints in the United States? There is your answer. The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. It doesn’t discriminate, either—from those with sedentary lifestyles to highly-trained athletes, everyone is susceptible!
Whether you want to prevent lower back pain or recover from it, regular back exercises are a good start. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises exercising for 10 to 30 minutes a day one to three times a day during the early stages of recovery. Consistent exercise speeds up rehabilitation and helps prevent or minimize future instances of back pain.
Don’t Just Sit There!
Constant sitting is becoming an increasing concern today. So many of us are glued to our chairs at our desk jobs, too caught up in our work to remember to stretch and move around. Elongated periods of sitting, however, shortens our muscles, creating strain on the lower back.
Did you know kettlebell training can strengthen your back?
Are you suffering from a back pain or an injury? When we’re in pain, it’s even easier to sit around and not move. Lack of activity and exercise, however, often worsens the pain by inducing stiffness and weakness. Your back needs movement to maintain healthy discs, muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Nurturing the Injury
If you have an injured disc, physical activity is key to diffusing nutrients into the injured area to help it stay healthy. Too much inactivity deprives the injured disc of its necessary nutrition, which can lead to increased degeneration and pain.
The exchange of fluids in spinal structures is an essential process in reducing swelling that naturally occurs in the tissues surrounding an injured disc. Regular activity and exercise facilitates this exchange of fluids to prevent swelling that could irritate nerves already affected by highly inflammatory herniated disc material.
Exercise is the natural stimulus for the healing process. When we exercise, we use our nervous system to tell the muscles what to do. In order for our muscles to fully heal, we need to be consistent and dedicated with our back exercise routine.
Athletes Get Back Pain, Too
It may seem unlikely that athletes experience lower back pain, since they don’t lead sedentary lifestyles. Tension can set in the lower back can be caused by any weight-bearing sport or exercise involving running, jumping, or rapid dynamic movements. Performing these activities repeatedly without properly stretching and releasing tight muscles can lead to overuse injuries.
What Exercises Help Maintain a Healthy Back?
There are three areas of back exercises, and it is important to practice all of them:
- Strengthening: Repeated muscle contractions until the muscle becomes tired.
- Stretching: Slow, sustained lengthening of the muscle.
- Aerobic: Steady exercise using large muscle groups.
For visual instructions that demonstrate multiple back exercises in graphic form, please visit the Mayo Clinic’s “Back Exercises in 15 minutes a Day” slideshow for some great examples.
Even those in good health should always exercise slowly and comfortably to avoid injury. Never overexert yourself. During strengthening and flexibility exercises, remember to breathe naturally without holding your breath. A good tip is to exhale during exertion and inhale during relaxation.
Soothe Your Back
Activity and exercise are important for maintaining back health, but that is not to say you should never relax! Here are some great ways to give your back a break.
Heat and Cold Therapy
A cold pack soothes the back by:
- Reducing inflammation, which is typically to blame in most back pain.
- Acting as a local anesthetic by slowing down nerve impulses, which prevents pain caused by nerve spasms.
Use heat therapy in order to:
- Stimulate blood flow and bring healing nutrients to the affected area of the lower back.
- Inhibit pain messages being sent to the brain.
You can enjoy heat therapy with a hot bath or shower, a soak in the hot tub, a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or a heat wrap. These methods provide continuous, low-level heat and are effective forms of applying healing warmth to your lower back.
Rest up the right way with a back massage. Massage therapy will aid in reducing muscular tension, improving blood circulation, and increasing flexibility. Plus, massage therapy releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that help block your brain from registering pain signals.
Find out how massages benefit the body
Do you want to enjoy a rejuvenating massage without leaving the comfort of your home? A heated massage chair can help you with that.
Yoga can be very therapeutic for those suffering with back pain. It helps to loosen myofascial tightness and imbalances and increase #body awareness. Yoga also improves your deep breathing, which involves fluid movement of the diaphragm. The fluid movement prevents tension from building, as well as induces a relaxation response in the parasympathetic nervous system.
See our article on the wonderful benefits of Yoga
Remember, the key to a healthy back is finding that balance between exercise and relaxation. Being active without overexerting yourself and fitting in regular “you” time will leave your back healthy and strong!
Please Note: Be sure to always consult your physician prior to performing intensive exercise or using a massage chair, especially if you suffer from a back injury or condition.