When your back pain flares-up, your first reaction is likely to find a comfortable resting position. After you find this, all you want to do is remain there as long as possible.
One or two days of rest may be okay after your back pain strikes, but here is why your back needs to keep moving:
Exercise as treatment for back pain
It seems counterintuitive, but prolonged rest can actually undermine your body's process of healing following a back injury. In contrast to prolonged rest, active forms of exercise are typically necessary to help alleviate your back pain (and, if necessary, rehabilitate your spine).
The key to exercising for lower back health is to ensure that your exercise program is controlled, gradual, and progressive. In turn, this exercise helps protect your back from further injury, while at the same time distributing nutrients throughout your lower back. The distribution of these nutrients may produce the following benefits:
- Minimize stiffness and/or weakness
- Reduce recurrences of pain
- Limit the severity of future episodes of pain
Types of exercises
There are numerous causes of lower back pain, and your exercise program needs to be tailored to your specific underlying cause. This means that you should create your exercise program in consultation with your medical professional, but only after you have been properly diagnosed.
While your exercise program needs to be tailored towards you, most plans have in common the following types of exercises:
- Stretching. This helps to improve the flexibility and elasticity in your discs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Strengthening. Two common types of back strengthening exercises are McKenzie exercises and lumbar stabilization exercises.
- Low-impact aerobic exercise. Walking, riding a stationary bike, or using the elliptical machine are all great low-impact options.
If your back pain is severe, try setting small exercise goals for yourself. For example, aim to walk for 5 minutes a day; then slowly work your way up.