Exercise and Back Pain

Exercise and Back Pain

Exercise and Back Pain

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When your back hurts,  the last thing you want to do is exercise.  And that is usually a mistake.  Traditionally,  our grandparents were advised to lie in bed, and not move when experiencing back pain.  More and more evidence suggests prolonged bedrest has adverse effects, and unintended consequences of more prolonged pain,  and disability.

Exercise and back pain is a common topic to many patients.   To review,  for the vast majority of the population,  back pain results from a soft tissue sprain/strain of the muscles or ligaments of the lower spine.  Or,  back pain can be the result of irritation of the developing arthritic joints of the spine, called the facet joint.   At any rate,  as long as the back pain is tolerable or not causing nerve irritation,  usually it will resolve, or improve for most people.  Exercise has the potential to decrease the duration of back pain,  or increase the intervals between episodes of back pain.

I regards to exercise and back pain,  my most common advise is to walk.  When you are in extreme pain,  you may not think that is possible.  But I advise patients to just take as many or as few steps for at least 10 minutes twice a day for the first few days of the back pain.  The act of walking does wonders for the body.  It requires you to get up from a seated or lying position.  It requires you to balance and coordinate all your muscles.  And, from the mental standpoint,  it demonstrates your ability to control some aspect of your pain.

In the act of walking,  you must recruit muscles from your abdomen,  your back , and your large muscle of the legs.  If you place your hand on your back muscles while walking,  you can feel the muscles contract and relax with each step.  While you may have back pain,  the act of recruiting those back muscles help maintain the muscle tone and orientation.

If you are feeling better, and can walk at a faster pace,  usually you will find yourself swinging your arms.  Again,  more muscles are recruited.  You can increase your aerobic activities,  and help exercise your heart, and burn a few calories.  Overtime,  the exercise of walking is a low impact,  aerobic activity,  that burns calories, and for the most part does not cost you anything other than time.  And,  it helps restore your core muscles, including your abdomen and your back.

In reference to exercise and back pain,  I also encourage stretching exercises.  under the  For Patients tab on the top of this page,  I have sections titled  Back Exercises, and Neck Exercises.  I find these exercises and stretches are helpful for patients recovering from back and neck pain.

And finally,  in reference to exercise and back pain,  I encourage everyone to be as active as possible.  Yoga,  Pilates,  low impact aerobics, swimming and upright bicycling are excellent other activities.

When experiencing back pain,  I usually recommend against vigorous tennis,  golf, or heavy weight lifting.  Unfortunately,  these activities are associated with more injuries to the back.

The bottom-line, is exercise and back pain are good topics of discussion you should have with your doctor.  Stay active,  stay low impact, and use common sense.

Citations

  • Magalhães MO, Comachio J, Ferreira PH, Pappas E, Marques AP. Effectiveness of graded activity versus physiotherapy in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain: midterm follow up results of a randomized controlled trial. Braz J Phys Ther. 2017 Jul 12; PubMed PMID: 28803704

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

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The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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