Top 10 Tips for Exercising with Back Injuries!
With 8 out of 10 people suffering from lower back pain at some point in their lives, it’s important to know how to care for it and make the lower back stronger. Remember, get your doctor’s approval before beginning a workout program.
Unfortunately, back injuries are all too common - they can occur at any time and for any reason. The cause of back injuries can range from a vehicle accident, muscle imbalance, bending improperly, or a fall. Physically fit people can be victims to a back injury as well as those who don’t exercise - these types of injuries do not discriminate. Unfortunately, some back injuries, such as a herniated disk or spinal stenosis, are permanent, and can lead to a life of consistent back pain.
However, the pain from even a traumatic injury to the disks can be managed through proper exercise and treatment.
Most fit people who hurt their backs find that it’s difficult to jump back into normal routines, therefore not only have to complete weeks of physical therapy, but also need to embark on post-rehab return to exercise plan that will include a variety of workouts to increase strength, stability, and mobility.
While increasing core strength is key to building a strong back, focus needs to be on addressing the strengthening your back, and stretching your hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Additionally, if you are overweight, losing the extra pounds will help reduce the pressure on your spine.
1. Reduce the time you spend seated
Get up and move at least once every hour. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to walk and stretch for 5 minutes.
2. Mobility is key
Flexibility, stability, and mobility are 3 key features that are important for our back. Increase your flexibility in your glutes and hamstrings to reduce strain on your back.
3. Keep it low
If you are victim to back pain, stick to low-impact exercises. That means any move that’s considered plyometric (jumping) is off limits, at least in the beginning.
WHILE YOU’RE SWEATING
4. No twisting
The motion of rotating your trunk (twisting) can damage the muscles and ligaments that surround your spine. With damage comes internal swelling, or inflammation. It’s that inflammation which results in back pain and immobility. Avoid Russian Twists, Woodchops, or any exercise that requires trunk rotation.
5. Be careful with forward bends
When bending forward, do not allow your back to roll. Instead, fall forward, but keep your neck and spine in alignment and your back straight. Avoid standing or seated hamstring stretches, lying leg raises, and sit ups. Back extensions are your friend. If you do yoga or Pilates (or any other class), make sure you inform the instructor of any conditions you have so they can provide you will modifications.
6. Pain = STOP
If an exercise or stretch causes you pain, stop immediately. While many trainers will tell you to “suck it up” and work through the pain, someone who has your best interests at heart knows that is a recipe for danger. Exercise should be challenging, not painful.
Right after your workout is the best time to stretch those hard-worked muscles.
8. Go cold
To keep inflammation at a minimum by using a cold compress after your workout routine.
9. Vary your routines
You will need to change up your workouts. Do weights one day, TRX, Pilates, and swimming on other days. Repetitive moves can cause injury, so make sure you switch up your workouts.
10. Ask for help!
If you are stuck with your progress, don’t be afraid to talk with a personal trainer or health coach. The value they can add is immeasurable.
BEST EXERCISES (*links go to YouTube demos)
These exercises are meant to help strengthen and increase the flexibility of the back muscles, so you can treat and (hopefully) diminish your back pain.
1. Back Extension – Lying face down on the floor, lift your body up from the waist until you can go no higher. Then gently lower to starting position.
Strengthens the back muscles and stretches the abdominal muscles.
2. Half Crunch – Sitting up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lower your upper body half wat to the floor, then gently return to starting position.
Strengthens the large and small abdominal muscles.
3. Bird Dog – Starting on your hands and knees, while engaging your abs, slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg until they are parallel to the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat, 10x before moving to opposite side.
Provides stability while strengthening your core.
4. Bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent (feet close to buttocks and hip width apart). While engaging your abs, raise your hips off the floor, but not too high. Return to starting position.
Strengthens the muscles in the lower back and hips, glutes, and legs.
5. Supermans – Lying on your stomach with your arms and legs fully extended in front of you and toes pointed, gently raise both your legs and arms. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to starting position.
Strengthens the muscles in your lower back, glutes and hips.
6. Cobra – Lie on your stomach, with your hand under your shoulders and legs straight. While engaging your abs, gently push your chest off the floor and hold for 5 seconds and return to starting position.
Strengthens the lower back, abdominals, and the muscles in the arms /shoulders.
BEST YOUTUBE CHANNEL FOR BACK HEALTH
BEST PRACTICES FOR BACK INJURY PREVENTION