Back pain is common in Australia. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that about 4 million of us experienced back pain in 2017-18 and that about 70-90% of us will suffer from it at some point during our lives.
Back pain comes from a range of conditions that affect the bones, joints, muscles, nerves and connective tissues of the back. It’s influenced by your age, posture, weight, fitness levels, and the type of work you do. It’s also linked to conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, disc disease, and your family history.
About 40% of people with back problems say that the pain interferes with their daily activities. If that’s you, should you exercise through the pain or rest?
Back Pain and Exercise
We often see clients who have been given a back pain exercise plan that just isn’t working for them. The exercise seems to be making things worse, not better. That’s usually because the cause of the back pain has been misidentified or because the exercises are not appropriate for your type of pain.
Because so many different things can cause back pain, it’s unwise to take a one-size-fits-all approach. If you have back pain, then please come and see us. We can diagnose the cause and severity of your pain and then recommend treatments to improve it.
That may include exercises – but carefully chosen ones, appropriate for your condition.
It’s particularly important to get help if you’re in constant pain, if it’s bad enough to wake you at night, if there’s pain down your leg too or if the pain is following an injury.
For less serious cases of back pain, our general advice is to keep moving but to be careful about what you do. Exercise helps your muscles to relax and promotes healing blood flow to the affected area.
Lower Back Pain Workout Plan
If your lower back is hurting, then here are back pain exercises that may help.
- Walk: Walking is an easy, low-impact aerobic exercise that helps improve lower back pain. A regular 10-15 minute walk is an excellent way to begin addressing your back pain.
- Stretch: Stretching helps to improve your flexibility, so try:
- Knee-to-chest stretch: Lying on your back and bringing your knee to your chest to elongate your lower back.
- Rotational stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, then roll both bent knees over to one side while keeping your shoulders flat on the floor.
- Cat stretch: Get on your hands and knees then arch your back to lengthen it and ease tension.
- Back pocket stretch: Put your hands in your back pockets, look up, and arch your back.
- Pelvic tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent and slowly tilt your pelvis up and down to release tight back muscles and improve flexibility.
- Swim: Pool-based exercises, including water aerobics, can help improve your pain without putting pressure on your spine.
- Posture: Poor posture is a common cause of back pain. Check and correct your posture throughout the day, remembering to sit straight and stand tall.
- Support the muscles that support your back: Your abdominals, glutes and hips all help support your back so strengthening those muscles can help relieve back pain. Try:
- Bridges: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor then lift your hips up and squeeze your buttocks.
- Lateral leg lifts: Lie on one side with your legs together and your bottom leg slightly bent, then lift the top leg up to work your hip abductor muscles which support your pelvis and, ultimately, your back.
- Partial curls: These are like half sit-ups that strengthen your core and help support your spine.
When to Readjust Treatment
Hopefully, these exercises will lead to a gradual but definite improvement in your back pain. However, if the pain gets worse with exercise or if there’s no improvement, then please come and see us as it may be time to readjust your treatment. Don’t continue with lower back pain exercises that aren’t working or are making it worse.
We want you to have a strong, stable body and the freedom to enjoy your daily activities without pain. Please make an appointment today and get started on your recovery.