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Do's & Don'ts of Exercising With Lower Back Pain by Dr. Scott Gray

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints that people go to physiotherapists and chiropractors for. Sometimes, lower back pain may be caused by an injury. But most of the time, the cause of the back-pain is never anything serious. It is usually daily stress that exaggerates the pain, causing people to seek help from a professional.

If you are currently experiencing lower back pain, you are probably trying to figure out the best practices and habits you can incorporate in your daily life to ease the pain and aid recovery. And it comes as no surprise that exercising regularly forms an integral part of managing lower back pain for many people.

However, people with pain cannot perform the same exercise regimen as someone with no pain. This is because certain exercises tend to put more pressure on the back, thereby increasing the pain. However, some exercises and stretches are excellent for easing the pain that you feel in your lower back. So, what are the exercises you can perform, and what are some exercises that you need to stay away from? Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’t of exercising with lower back pain.

Don’t Go On Your Daily Run

If you are someone who loves getting in a run before their morning breakfast, then we have bad news for you. Unfortunately, running is a high-impact exercise that puts a lot of pressure on your lower back. Therefore, this activity must be avoided until you have sufficiently recovered from the pain.

Do Go For Walks

Just because we say don’t go running doesn’t mean that you sit around in your chair all day long and wait for recovery to happen miraculously. Instead, what helps to reduce lower back pain is walking at a moderate pace for at least 10-15 minutes twice a day. This simple activity will activate your muscles and aid in recovery.

Don’t Do High Impact Workouts

There’s a saying that fitness lovers live by: “Work through the pain.” But this is not something that a person with lower-back pain must abide by, especially if the exercises you are doing are causing you more pain. In fact, it is best to stay away from all kinds of high-impact workouts, including burpees, jumping jacks, knee highs, and the like.

Do Low Impact Workouts

If you are experiencing lower back pain, then low impact workouts are your best friend. Yoga and pilates are good choices to try out, as they tend to strengthen your core and back muscles while stretching the muscles simultaneously. Make sure not to perform any exercises that feel wrong on your back. It is best to workout with the help of a professional Yoga/Pilates instructor.

Don’t Skip Warm-Up And Cool-Down Sessions

This is very important, not just for those who have lower back issues but for those who exercise in general. Warm-ups are essential to get the muscles active and moving, especially after a long day of sitting at your desk. Similarly, cool-downs help your muscles get back to a state of rest slowly and gradually. Warm-ups and cool-downs help you avoid putting sudden and unnecessary pressure on your spine, which might harm your lower-back in the long run and cause more pain.

Do Regular Stretches

Stretches are essential when it comes to reducing lower back pain. Stretches act as a great way to warm up your body right before an intense workout. The two main stretches that are considered best for lower-back issues are the cobra stretch and the cat-cow. These stretches can be done at least 3-5 times in the warm-up and held for at least 30 seconds each time. This will help get the blood to start flowing and make the muscles ready for the workout.

Don’t Lift Weights Overhead

Lifting weights overhead when you are experiencing lower back pain is inadvisable, especially if you are doing it with the wrong form and without a professional trainer's help. Lifting weights overhead (or even lifting weights on your shoulders) tends to put a lot of pressure on the spinal discs and is therefore not recommended.

Do Water Aerobics Or Swimming

You can replace your heavy weight lifting sessions with some pool aerobics or swimming sessions, which experts say are excellent for managing lower back pain. Swimming and water aerobics are non-impact exercises that strengthen the lower back without putting any pressure on it. As such, these workouts are great for people with chronic lower back pain.