Is back pain preventing you from exercising?

When your back hurts, it feels nearly impossible to be active and do the things you love. It’s common to take it easy and stop all strenuous activity. This may be fine for a day or two, but over time, it slows the healing process and can lead to further stiffness and weakness.

It’s important to understand the causes of back pain and keeping a regular exercise routine in spite of it. Doing safe exercises will actually help you and can decrease back pain over time.

It’s more common than you think

Your back takes the brunt of many forces throughout your day. Physical pressure, stress, poor posture, injury, and consistent muscle contractions from tedious tasks can all cause occasional or persistent back pain. As you age, regular wear and tear occurs and you may experience soreness. If not taken care of early, minor back pain may lead to further injury down the road.

Causes of back pain

Back pain is more avoidable than you may think. By not paying attention to your movements and by not stretching, back pain can increase after years of regular wear and tear. A few common causes for back pain:

Sedimentary jobs: If you sit at a desk or in a car all day and come home and sit on the couch, your back is suffering. When you sit, the spongy discs that cushion your vertebrae have poor blood supply, but when you move, the fluid circulates. Your discs are nourished by motion and are deprived of nutrition and fluids when you sit for long periods of time. Over time, sitting for long periods can cause long-term damage.

Pro Tip: Move every 20 minutes if possible. Keep your spine aligned when sitting and choose a chair that best supports your back.

Weekend Warrior: You may sit at a desk or drive your car all week, but on the weekend you’re a warrior! You catch up for lost time by being a basketball player, gardener, skier, repair man, cyclist or participate in other hobbies you enjoy. These are all good things but can cause back injuries if you’re not careful.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re exercising and stretching during the week so you’re body is ready for your weekend warrior adventures.

Lifting with your back: when you bend over to pick up a heavy box and fail to position your body to lift with your knees, you’ll likely experience minor, and in come cases major back pain.

Pro Tip: Be mindful of how you lift things by engaging your abs and lifting with your knees with your back straight.

Why exercise is important for back pain

Giving your back time to rest after an injury is a good thing, but not for too long. Movement keeps your discs, joints and muscles healthy as physical activity releases nutrients to enter the injured disc space. When the disc is deprived of nutrients from inactivity, this can lead to further pain and degeneration.

Exercise also exchanges fluids in your spinal structures which reduces swelling in tissues surrounding an injured disc. This swelling can lead to further irritation of your nerves if it continues.

Safe exercises for back pain sufferers

Pelvic Tilt: lie on your back with your knees bent towards the sky. Tighten your stomach until you press the small of your back against the floor. Hold for five seconds and repeat up to 10 times.

Swimming/Water Aerobics: water exercises may be one of the best choices for back pain as the water provides support and resistance. Activity in the water gets your blood flowing to release nutrient that heal your discs and muscles.

Yoga: the practice of yoga provides flexibility and strength. Let your teacher know in advance that you have back pain. They can provide alternate moves to make sure you’re helping your back and not harming it.

Though back pain can result due to age, sedimentary living, or injury, it can be helped by regular strengthening and stretching. Choose an exercise to start today and allow the natural nutrients to start flowing through your body for a healthy recovery.