Should I exercise with a “Bad Back?” -What exercises should you be doing to help with low back pain?
I had this question come up 2 times in the last week in different ways so I figured now was a good time to address this for all of you to benefit as well.
Last week I had a gentleman call into Natural Fit Therapy asking to cancel his appointment. Ok a little back story. This gentleman has been coming in for about 4 weeks after years of low back pain. He finally decided to come into get treatment when the back pain was getting in the way of him helping his wife with dementia. His pain was significantly reduced as he was beginning to get back to regular exercising. His therapy sessions were consisting of less hands on manual therapy and were beginning to incorporate more and more exercises to help him get stronger.
So, the phone conversation went something like this…
“I am calling to cancel my appointment because I am in too much pain to do the exercises. I was helping my wife get out of bed when I felt a twinge in my back. It has been getting worse and worse and I just can’t do the exercises that you are wanting me to do. I am just going to lie down rest and hope this pain gets better”
Honestly this is not an uncommon conversation for us to hear at Natural Fit Therapy.
I totally get it.
It is natural reaction to stop doing anything that hurts when you are in pain.
You want to make sure that you don’t make it worse.
And performing moderate to heavy strengthening exercises and core stability exercises would not be the first thing that I would want to be doing if I was in severe back pain.
In fact I would recommend against heavy exercising if your back is hurting.
After explaining to the gentlemen that we don’t have to pick up where we left off last treatment session. I told him we would reassess and adjust the treatment as necessary. I would most likely do a lot more hands on manual therapy to help reduce the pain and then try some lower level exercises within his tolerance. He ended up coming in and feeling much better after the session.
But why do any exercises? Why not rest in bed or just do massage or manual therapy only. Well I’ll tell you for sure that bed rest is not the answer. (see my blog on this a few weeks back) And hoping it will go away… when you have a long history of back pain is not very likely either.
Slow graded exercises and getting back to normal day to day activity is most effective at helping with low back pain. At Natural Fit Therapy we encourage our patients to walk, perform light activities and avoid aggravating activities when they are experiencing a flare up. Exercises is the closest thing we have to a miracle drug. It just takes the skill of a good physical therapist and some common sense to make sure that dose of exercise is correct.
The second version of this question came form a 50 year old women from Cedar Park. She asked me.. “What exercises are best for low back pain.”
Now this is a very hard question to answer. Most times I will tell people that its hard to give an answer without perfroming a full evaluation first. But if I had to I would say…
Gentle walking with specific exercises designed to improve lower back flexibility and strength, will make a big overall difference.
Walking is a completely natural movement that keeps your joints mobile and muscles working – even those in your feet, legs, hips and trunk – which play an important role in keeping the muscles in your back that hold you upright and strong.
Stretching combined with walking will improve your back strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn, can help stop back pain from creeping up on you when you least expect it. What’s more, it can also reduce how painful it feels and how much it gets in the way of day to day life.
If you would like to know 2 of the stretches that I give almost all of my patients with low back pain and other tips to help with back pain them please click the link below to get my free report tilted “9 Natural Tip to Eliminate Back Pain”
For even more information that may help alleviate you of your back pain, be sure to check out our FREE BACK PAIN REPORT!!! (Click Here)