If you’ve been having back or neck pain recently, you may have been tempted to take it easy and cut back on your normal activities. Though it definitely makes sense to avoid movements that are going to jar or jostle you, it’s also important that you don’t go too far to the other extreme. Though there’s something comforting about crawling under the covers or curling up on the couch for an extended period of binge-watching the latest TV series, doing so can work against you in the long term. Exercise and activity are a key to healing and rehabilitation if they’re done in the right way.
Here’s what you need to know about back pain and exercise:
• Activity is good for your back as long as it’s not too strenuous or jarring. Find an activity level that is comfortable and stick to it, gradually increasing your intensity level based on listening to your body.
• Too much rest is counter-productive. The longer you stay away from a healthy level of activity, the harder it is to get back to it and the higher your pain levels are likely to climb.
• There is no single ‘best’ exercise for your back other than the one that you enjoy the most and are most likely to stick with. There are so many to choose from, including walking, yoga, biking, and more.
• There’s no such thing as a form of exercise that is universally bad for the back, even if it involves high impact, lifting weights, or lots of twisting or bending. The key to avoiding injury lies in doing an exercise properly and introducing it gradually so that you can gain strength and learn the right technique.
• In many cases, engaging in gentle exercise and activities offers a superior solution to back pain than surgery, injections or medication.
• If you stick with a regular exercise routine that provides you with constant movement and activity, you have a much better chance of avoiding a recurrence of a back injury or the reemergence of back pain.
• Your exercise routine – whatever it is – should be a regular part of your life. Try to make sure that you are active for a minimum of 150 minutes over the course of a week to get the most whole-body impact and benefit.
• Though you don’t want to throw yourself into a new exercise with abandon, it is also important that you don’t exercise so slowly and carefully that you add extra tension to your muscles. The more confident your movements and the more relaxed your muscles, the less chance you have of injuring yourself.
• Don’t mistake soreness for injury. When you start a new type of exercise you are always likely to experience some aches and pains, as you are using your muscles in a new way. With time, you will get stronger and more accustomed to the movements.
For guidance on whether an exercise program will provide you with relief of your back pain symptoms and which exercises are best for you, contact our office today to set up a time for an appointment with our spine expert.