Exercises To Help Back Pain!
What if you have found that exercise has actual aggreviated your back condition contrary to the advice out there?
We believe that this issue may occur due to a lack of information readly avaliable on how to correctly do certain exercises for the back. In this blog article we will discuss the benefits of swimming, cycling and walking but more importantly we cover how to carry out these exercises to gain pain relief but to avoid aggravation.
What is the science behind why exercise helps to reduce back pain?
“The spine, particularly your lumbar spine, with it’s associated muscles, discs, joints and ligaments are extremely dependent on motion for their health, maintenance and repair” (www.lowerbackpain-help.com)
Exercise causes the heart to beat faster, which in turn results in pumping an increase flow of blood around the circulatory system. Deeper breaths are also taken increasing the amounts of oxygen which then enters the blood stream working it’s way to all the muscle tissue and fibres through out the body.
This natural increase of oxygenated blood results in bringing nutrients to the cells while removing waste products away from the cells. This consquently aids muscle relaxation and reduces ache and pain (Huffington.co.uk)
Endorphines, the bodies natural pain killers, are also released helping to further reduce pain, while exercise aids weight loss helping to improve posture and thus reduce joint pressure (Webmd.com)
Three exercises recommended for back pain – Swimming, Cycling and Walking.
1. Swimming – what are the benefits for back pain?
Due to water counteracting the force of gravity this is a great choice of exercise for an individual with aching back muscles. Firstly the sensation of feeling weightless is relaxing and therapeutic but more importantly it puts less strain on joints while providing a great form of resistance training (Clevelandclinic.org). Such movement can then naturally lead to building strong, lean muscle fibres within the back helping to prevent further deterioration.
The don’ts about swimming! – alternative suggestions
So far we have discussed above the benefits of swiming however, like many other exercises it can have the adverse effect with poor choice of stroke or incorrect form. Breaststroke and butterfly stroke for example are movements to avoid due to the load they can put on the back (Swim Swam.com) while the front crawl and backstroke can be very beneficial.
With any type of swimming you need to take into consideration how you are moving within the water, otherwise known as form (a key feature you will see repeated in this article due to it’s importance). Many people for example can habitually jerk their neck when taking a breath during the frount crawl or arch the spine during the breast stroke making it conterproductive and even result in worsening back pain. This issue then makes back pain sufferes wary of carying out the exercise in the future or even avoid it completely.
Proventive methods to such problems however, can be put into place to avoid such outcomes, by using certain equipment aids or by changing the way you are moving your body within the water. An example to help avoid jerking the neck, when taking a breath with the frount crawl, could be to use a set of goggles or a snorkel mask.A kickboard/float has also been shown to help position the back better and avoid cuverature of the spine during the breast stroke.
Water aerobics can also be a good alternative to avoid aggreviation when carrying out different strokes. It can be beneficial for people that want to choose an exercise that can be a socialable event too by joining classes and meeting others. Session instructors can also help to keep you motivated and reach your highest potential.
2. Cycling – what are the benefits for back pain?
Cycling is another option for back pain sufferers helping to tone the back muscles, especially the groups either side of the spinal cord. It can help to keep joints flexible, reduce stiffness and tone muscles. This form of exercise is also gentle on the back, as there are no sudden jolts or jars and the actual pedalling action helps move the lumbar smoothly from side to side as the legs go up and down.
The do’s and don’ts about Cycling and alternative suggestions.
Again bike riding can also have a negative impact on the back if certain things are not kept in check. For example, your positioning on a bike is important as well as making sure the framework is correctly adapted to your body type and the saddle is set so the feet just touch the ground. Sadle and handle bar distance should also be checked as well as height and width. These factors are usually standard in a cycle store so discuss this over with your local bike fitting specialist and they can provide suggestions and professional advice. (www.backcare.org.uk). Taking the time and money to set up a bicycle properly will ensure the best results for treating back pain, rather than making it worse.
Your choice of terrain is also another important factor to consider as the back can be aggreviated further on rough and uneven surfaces. Cycle paths are usually a better option due to there smooth finish however, spinning (act of getting on a bike and going no where) is another alternative by providing movement without subjecting the weight-bearing joints to a great deal of impact. A thickly padded, gel, or air filled seat will also help support the buttocks and keep pressure off the spine. www.painresource.com
3. Walking – what are the benefits for back pain?
Walking is another great exercise for the back as it is gentle on the joints and muscles due to it’s low impact. It helps lessen back pain by strengthening the muscles in the feet, hips and torso. Flexibility and posture can be improved allowing a greater range of motion, helping to prevent awkward movenment and future susceptibility to injury (www.spine-health.com).
The do’s and don’ts about walking and alternative suggestions.
Even though walking is seen as one of the most gentle forms of exercise when it is not done correctly damage to the back can still occur. The first aspect to take into consideration is posture and the way you are holding your self when walking. For example, stooping or bending over at the waist is a common mistake especially when approaching an incline. Tight raised shoulders if your feeling tense, head position, looking at the ground and poor arm swing are all effecting factors.
To avoid such issues stand tall and try to not arch the back. Pull the stomach muscles in from the belly button area towards the spine. Focus on dropping the shoulders, down and back by lifting the chest area up. Create a good arm swing action rather than holding the arms tightly by your side which will also improve balance, make walking eaiser and result in burning more calories.
The type of ground you are walking upon is also important with hard surfaces such as concrete heavily impacting the joints. Alternativetly try finding a running track, grass or a tred mill (www.spineuniverse.com) all which will dramatically reduce the force on the spine.
Foot wear should also be carefully considered by choosing trainers that are cushioned and have a good arch support. This works by properly aligning the foot when it comes into contact with the ground (www.selfgrowth.com) and avoid forces traveling from the feet up to the back.
Gradually build up the amount of time spent exercising but also listen to your body every step of the way.
As with all exercises the best policy is to start off doing small amounts and gradually build the time spent doing each exercise slowly. This approach will allow the body to adjust and become acustomed to the new movements a bit at time. Each individual is different and it is also vital that you listen to your body and how you are personally feeling during and after each session.
If you have been wary about trying out these exercises in the past or have found that your back has been aggrivated further by doing them, we hope now this article has got you feeling little more confident in considering swimming, cycling and walking again and consequently help you on your way to successfully start reducing your back pain.