Back Pain Happens for Many Reasons.
Back pain can happen to anyone and for any reason. This is my most painful back pain experience. Have you ever heard of Insanity? It is a P90x hybrid on steroids, a very high intense, body weight driven workout program. One day I was doing a burpee to push combination and as I was spring forward into plank, my back seized up. I could not even move from the floor, the pain was unbearable. I needed to call into work sick because I could barely move and spent the rest of the day on the heating pad, popping Motrin and waiting for my back pain to ease. I will never forget that moment, and neither will my back from time to time. Back pain does not to limit as long as we exercise with caution.
1. What are the best exercises for easing back pain? Why?
Back pain is caused for many reasons and can differ depending on the injury. For example, I had a client with bulging disc in their lumbar region caused from prolong desk sitting. I also had a female client who has a bulging disc in their cervical region caused from lifting and holding her twin infant boys for long periods of time. With my experience, it was moving rapidly and quickly.
Once the pain starts, it is usually difficult (impossible) for the pain to vanish for life. It usually pops up from time to time, the best thing to do is to strengthen the muscles that support the back. Here is my general advice based on the location back pain. Although the back also includes the cervical, most back pain are in the lower and central part of the back.
Lower Back (Lumbar and Sacral) -The goal is to increase strength through the lower abdominal, hips and gluteal region to act as an buttress against the spine. Exercises include wide leg sumo squats, hip lifts, leg extensions, modified plank, on knees.
Thoracic (the area surrounding the ribs, the central part of the back). The goal is to increase strength in the back primarily but to also add strength in the arms, chest, and abs. Again, the idea is to have a secondary muscle to assist to support the back. Exercises include pushups ( start against the wall, move to your knees and finally in plank if you desire), rows, including upright rows, and simple punches.
2. What are the best exercises for preventing back pain? Why?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before one exits/enters the bed, it is best for doing light stretching. Stretches including laying on the bed and hugging ones knees to chest, hamstring, quad stretches, light, slow and control rotation and flexion help relax the body and aid it to start or end the day.
3. What should you avoid if you have back pain?
It is best to avoid movements that can exacerbate the issue. For example, I had a client who worked for a parcel delivery service. One of the requirements was that he carry and move materials of 50lbs per day. Often these delivers had tight delivery schedules, and time was of the essence. His health was not worth risking back spasms by quickly shuffling packages for almost 9 hours a day with little breaks. It was necessary to find a new job. That is an extreme example, but for most of us with back pain it involves avoiding hyper (moving too far forward) flexion, extension or rotation. Also, making sure that you move with slow, deliberate movements. Most times we are not in a race, so taking the time to bend your knees and extending your arm to pick up a package is much better than bending from the waist and to reach for the same package from a further distance.
4. When and why should you consult a doctor about your back pain or if you can exercise?
It is best to seek back treatment when the pain causes disruption to your everyday life. For example, when pain prevents you from completing simple tasks such as bending, pushing, lifting or carrying (objects that weight more than 20lbs. There really is no specific type of guidelines because some have higher pain tolerances than others. However, there are some instances where it is best to see the doctor immediately, in areas where you cannot perform daily hygiene routines without assistance- unable to exit or enter the bed, hooking/unhooking bra straps, tying shoelaces, bathing, and entering/exiting toilet. These can signal other issues beyond back pain.
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