When back pain strikes, your inclination may be to rest and wait it out. This is typically a good idea for 24 to 48 hours, but prolonged rest may actually make your back pain worse.
In contrast to prolonged rest, low-impact aerobic exercise can help rehabilitate your spine and alleviate your pain.
The many benefits of low-impact aerobic exercise
Any kind of prolonged aerobic exercise stimulates the flow of blood and nutrients to your lower back—which in turn encourages healing and can help decrease your stiffness.
Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, provides the extra advantage of minimizing the jarring of your spine. In addition, you may experience any of the following benefits from a daily routine of low-impact aerobic exercise:
- Reduced instances of lower back pain—along with reduced levels of pain during an episode.
- Preserved functional capacities, which means you can continue to work and participate in your hobbies.
- Increased production of pain-fighting endorphins, which can help reduce your dependence on pain medication for lower back pain relief. An increase in your endorphin levels may also improve your mood and relieve symptoms of depression—a common condition for those suffering from lower back pain.
Options for low-impact aerobic exercise
You may be interested in low-impact aerobic exercise to help relieve your lower back pain—but what if you don’t like walking? Luckily, there are a number of great alternatives, including:
- Water therapy. Aerobic exercise in a pool minimizes the strain on your lower back because the buoyancy of the water counteracts the effects of gravity.
- Stationary bike. You can purchase a bike for use at home, or join a class with friends for additional motivation.
- Elliptical trainer. An elliptical trainer reduces the stress on your spine by moving your legs in a continuous oval motion above the ground.
Regardless of which option you choose for low-impact aerobic exercise, aim to complete at least 20 minutes of exercise five days a week. If you’re new to exercising, begin with 5 minutes and slowly work your way up.
It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. But once you’re cleared get moving right away—you might find significant relief from your lower back pain.