When Lower Back Pain Interferes With Your Fitness Routine
If there’s one body issue that’s extraordinarily common, around the world and across age groups, it’s back pain, especially lower back pain. In fact, nearly 80% of Americans will experience some type of back problem during their lifetime. For many, lower back pain isn’t simply an annoyance. It can be a debilitating obstacle, particularly if you're someone who is used to physical activity and a regular exercise routine. Depending on the severity of your back pain, exercising and other simple activities such as bending down, or even laying down to sleep, may trigger a painful reaction. Thankfully, this condition is treatable for most people. A combination of best practices, exercises and, for some, physical therapy can help you find relief. Here are a few tips to help you begin to address your lower back pain.
Limit Your Bed Rest
Studies have shown that people with lower back pain who rest more have more intense and more frequent pain than those who rest less. Be sure you get enough sleep, but otherwise, try to limit the amount of bed rest you get. Your body does better when standing upright and engaging in moderate activity.
Back Pain and Your Posture
Try to maintain good posture. Maintaining good posture is key to warding off back pain, and keeping you fit and healthy. Make sure that you sit erect. Make an effort not to slouch or contort your body into unnatural positions. If it helps, get a small back pillow or similar support that will make it easier to keep good posture. Another key thing here is to maintain good form when exercising. Performing exercises without correct form and posture can result in not just extended back pain (it builds up), but potentially severe injury.
Strengthen Your Abdominal Muscles
Your torso involves many muscle groups working together. If your abdominals are weak, other muscle areas pick up the slack, thus increasing strain on the lower back as well as other areas, which can cause back pain. Strengthening your abdominal muscles can reduce strain. Try to incorporate core exercises into your routine as often as possible. The classics, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and leg-ups are good options.
Improve Your Flexibility
Tension and tightness in muscles can cause a lot of pain, especially back pain. If you release this tension and improve your flexibility, you will find some relief. You should always stretch before exercising. In fact, even if you're not engaged in an exercise regime, you should do stretches every day. This is particularly true if you're seated for several hours a day. When you pick stretches to incorporate into your routine, include stretches that work all parts of your body. This will help keep your muscles nimble and strong. Stretching is a healthy habit all around and can help you prevent lower back pain.
Don’t Rely on a Back Brace
It’s tempting to baby your back when it's in pain, but braces and similar devices should be used sparingly. Braces are good to wear when you're involved in strenuous activity such as lifting, gardening, etc. However, you should keep them on for only about 15 minutes at a time whenever possible. The longer you wear a brace, the more your muscles, which should be stabilizing you, tend to weaken. This will only prolong your recovery time from your back pain.
Apply Cold and Heat
For temporary back pain, the kind spurred by a gym injury or similar incident, heating and cooling pads can help soothe tender areas. Apply ice or heat packs during the first 48 hours of your injury, particularly if there is any swelling. There are now lots of convenient ways to apply hot and cold packs to an injury, and cold and heat are equally beneficial. Alternate between the two and don't leave either one in place for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.
RX Fitness is Here to Help
If you're suffering from temporary or chronic pain that is interfering with your daily routine and your favorite activities and you need a little advice, stop by our store in Thousand Oaks or give us a call. RX Fitness Equipment works with hundreds of physical therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers, and fitness coaches and we're happy to refer you to one or several so you can get the information and advice you need to address your pain and get your fitness routine back on track. We also carry equipment and accessories of all kinds to fit every goal and budget and make your fitness routine more productive. Come in and let us help you find exactly what you're looking for. And don't forget, you can always find Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, on Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store..
Contact Tim Adams for a free consultation or stop by the store and take something for a test drive. We’re here to help.