If you are one of the millions of people that suffer from lower back pain, then you need to know that exercise can do wonders for you. When it comes to relieving lower back pain, exercise provides more long-term relief than any back pills that your provider can give you. The fact is, pills only serve to mask the problem by providing temporary relief of the pain, but the problem that is causing much of the pain is still there. Exercise will strengthen the muscles that support your back and improve flexibility thus greatly reducing the chances of future attacks.
You should be doing a threefold program of exercise which includes aerobics, resistance and stretching exercises. Aerobic exercise like walking and bike riding will begin to get your body conditioned properly because it strengthens your heart and lightly works your muscles. Resistance exercise like weight lifting will strengthen the muscles that support your back. Stretching exercises will increase flexibility giving your back a greater range of motion. Your provider can guide you as to when and how much of each type of exercise you should be getting.
For people with lower back pain, the best aerobic exercises to do are low impact ones like swimming, walking and bike riding. Jogging, dance aerobics and step aerobics all produce repeated impact on your back and on your knee and hip joints as well. In order to get in good condition, start out with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic work per day, 2 to 3 times per week, and then gradually build yourself up to 30 to 40 minutes per day, 4 to 5 times per week.
You should be working enough to raise your heart rate to be in between 65% to 85% of your maximal heart rate. You determine your maximal heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Regardless of whether you are walking, bike riding or doing any other aerobic exercise, always maintain good posture. This means sit up straight, stand straight and do not slouch or lean forward. Good posture is essential to any good exercise program.
When it comes to resistance exercising, you always want to concentrate on the abdominal muscles. These muscles play a major part in giving your lower back support and the stronger they are, the more relief for your back. Also important is to do exercises that are designed to specifically strengthen the lower back muscles themselves. You will best benefit from working each muscle group 2 to 3 times per week. You may want to hire a qualified fitness trainer to help get you on your way by designing a resistance program that is right for you.
Remember that while resistance exercise is great for strengthening the targeted muscles being worked, there should never be any pain involved. Some discomfort should be present in the muscles being worked while performing the exercises for them, but should subside very shortly after completion of the exercise. If there is any pain during the exercises or if discomfort persists for some time after, it is a sign that something is wrong and exercising should be discontinued and your provider should be consulted immediately.
As far as stretching is concerned, 10 to 15 minutes of moderate stretching per day is usually enough to get the job done just fine. Here you really want to concentrate on stretching your hamstrings which are the muscles in the back of your upper legs. The looser your hamstring muscles are, the better range of motion your back will have because flexible hamstring muscles do not put the strain on your lower back that tight ones do. In order to stretch your muscles in a manner that will help them “stay stretched,” you will need to work up to holding the stretch for 90 seconds. If the muscles are stretched for less time than 90 seconds, they will snap back like a rubber band and a lasting stretch will not be achieved.
Stretching the lower back muscles is also a must provided this does not cause pain or increased symptoms. One way to do this is by sitting on the floor with your legs flat on the floor in front of you while you slowly reach for your toes until you can’t go any further, and hold for 90 seconds. Slowly sit back up. This is a great exercise to stretch both your hamstrings and your lower back. Repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times each day as tolerated.
While there are no miracle cures for lower back pain, you can make living with a lower back condition much easier to deal with by simply incorporating some exercise into your life each day. It is worth the effort in the long run to spend 30 to 40 minutes per day, 4 to 5 days per week, to exercise away your lower back pain.