Should You Exercise If You Suffer from Back Pain?
Back pain can manifest itself in many ways and depending on what you are experiencing at the time will in large part, determine what exercises (if any) you could and should be doing.
Do Not Exercise If …
If all you are comfortable doing is sitting gingerly on the couch, and getting and sitting down are painful, then you should refrain from any exercising until your back heals. Exercising in this state could make your back pain worse. If you have had this before and know it will heal up in a few days, a trip to the doctor or chiropractor may not be necessary, however, if you are new to back pain or it hasn’t gotten better after a few days of rest, then a trip to the doctor is in order to determine the root of the pain.
Exercising with Back Pain
So just what exercises can you do when experiencing back pain? If you can sit down, get up, walk and lift light objects and the pain is manageable, they you should be able to do some light exercising.
One of the best forms of no impact exercises is working out in the pool. Because water takes the weight off your back, working out can be less painful than on dry land.
Anything from walking while in the pool, to water aerobics, to water jogging, to actual swimming can all be good if suffering from back pain.
Dry Land Workouts
If you don’t have a pool nearby, some light walking can be good for your back as well as cycling on a recumbent bike. Recumbents are easier on your back because they provide more support for your back than a regular bike that you ride upright.
The same strategy goes for working out using weight machines. Because they offer more support and stability than free weights, they are a good way to strength train with a sore back. If you lose control of a dumbbell or barbell, you could further injure your back.
Another very back-friendly exercise program is yoga. Because the poses are all done slowly and are basically stretching exercises, you can better control what you do from a pain management standpoint. And because yoga also incorporates meditation, you can get better in touch with your body and focus on getting better.
Exercising with a sore back can get tricky and further damaging your back can be a real possibility. But with caution and doing what you can within the limits of your capabilities, working out with a sore back is entirely possible.
6 Bad Exercises to Perform if You Have Back Pain
Different exercises work different parts of your body. This allows you to target desired parts of your body when you are working out. If you are experiencing back pain, there are certain forms of physical fitness which should be avoided, because they can make your situation worse. Skip the following 6 exercises if you are experiencing chronic or acute back pain.
1) Toe Touches
This is a simple exercise which is good for improving flexibility and balance. Standing toe touches, where you bend forward with your knees straight and touch your fingers to your toes, should be avoided if you are experiencing any type of back pain. Exercise is good for back pain. However, if your pain persists for more than 10 or 15 minutes during exercise, skip that particular movement altogether.
Sit-ups are great for strengthening your core. When your core is strong, it protects your spine, and makes for a strong, healthy back. The problem is when people perform sit-ups incorrectly, using the muscles in their hips to pull themselves forward. This puts unnecessary pressure on the discs in your spine, and can cause or worsen back problems.
3) Leg Lifts
Leg lifts, like sit-ups, are often recommended for strengthening your core. They do work well for core development and making your abdominal muscles stronger. However, if you suffer from chronic or acute back pain, leg lifts can definitely make your situation worse.
High impact aerobic exercises include jogging, running, tennis, and even some types of dancing. If you are unable to keep your spine in a neutral position while experiencing aerobic exercise, it is better to skip that exercise if you suffer from back pain.
5) Rotation Exercises
A lot of physical fitness routines require that you hold your base steady, from your waist down, while twisting your upper body. This has a direct effect on the discs in your spine. Avoid exercises which require you to swivel and twist at your waist.
6) “Opposite” Movements
This has to do with exercising as well as non-exercising maneuvers. If you have back pain and have been sitting at your desk for hours, don’t stand up immediately. If you perform any type of exercise where you are lying on your back for an extended period of time, take your time standing up as well. Any time your body has been in one position for a long time, and then quickly moves to an opposite physical state, you run the risk of aggravating your back pain.