Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lower Back Rehab

Low back pain and injuries are among the most infamous and talked about health problems, especially amongst active people. Having an injured back is a horrible experience that can be hard to understand unless you have experienced it for yourself. Injury, especially re-injury, is often caused by overuse and muscle strain. Treating and caring for your back can help you stay active, as well as help you understand that some continued or repeated back pain is not uncommon or dangerous.

Fortunately most low back pain can get better! By staying active, avoiding positions and activities that may increase or cause back pain, using ice, and taking nonprescription pain relievers (such as ibuprofen) as needed will help keep the pain at bay.

When you no longer have acute pain, it is important to start strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, as well as some stretching exercises. One thing I never realized until my own back injury (I herniated 2 discs and strained a muscle) was how important it is to strengthen the core. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain, but may actually speed up recovery and prevent re-injury.

**It's important that you don't let fear of pain keep you from trying gentle activity. You should try to be active soon after noticing pain, and gradually increase your activity level.Too little activity can lead to loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and then to more pain.

Exercises to reduce low back pain are not complicated and can be done at home without any special equipment. Below is an outline of a well-rounded exercise plan you can use to help strengthen your back once the pain is no longer acute.

Aerobic Exercise: to condition your heart and other muscles, maintain health, and speed recovery. Try low or no-impact activities such as pool walking, jogging, swimming, or the elliptical machine. (See my Training Ater an Injury post for an example of an incredible pool workout to try).

Strengthening Exercises: focused on your back, stomach, and leg muscles.

Stretching Exercises: to keep your muscles and other supporting tissues flexible and less prone to injury.

Always warm up before stretching exercises. Five minutes of walking, or exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even marching on the spot is enough. Not warming up before stretching leaves your back susceptible to injuries, causing back pain. Warm muscles are more flexible than cold muscles and are less likely to tear.

Keep watching the Dynamic Workouts Blog for exercises you can try in each of these categories. If you would like to receive email updates, please add your email address in the box to the right of this post.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this section on lower back pain. What do you find are the best exercises to do at home for core strengthening to help combat lower back problems?