Back pain: Which exercises should I be avoiding?

If you have back pain, I am sure you already know the benefits of exercise to treat your condition. The problem is that you don’t know which exercises are the most appropriate for your condition. You’re probably afraid of flaring your symptoms by doing the wrong things. Maybe you have already do..

Pain caused by exercise is most often related to an inability of your body to sustain the requested load

If you have back pain, I am sure you already know the benefits of exercise to treat your condition. The problem is that you don’t know which exercises are the most appropriate for your condition. You’re probably afraid of flaring your symptoms by doing the wrong things. Maybe you have already done a session at the gym in past to then realize that your pain was worse?

Is exercise really good for your back? If so, what are the exercises to prioritize? And above all, what are the exercises to avoid so you don’t make your condition worse?

To answer this question, one must first understand some key concepts. First, the pain caused by exercise is most often related to an inability of your body to sustain the requested load. In other words, your lack of strength and/or stability and/or flexibility may cause a particular exercise to trigger your lower back pain when you perform it. Add to that the fact that your back is more fragile because of your history of back pain (or any an earlier injury). This explains why you sometimes see people at the gym doing exercises that you think might be bad for the back, yet those same individuals will tell you they never experienced back pain! In their case (and unlike you), their back is able to sustain the effort required by the particular exercise, which explains the absence of pain.

So what are the exercises to avoid when we have back pain? The answer is unfortunately more complex than you think…simply because there is no such thing as a “bad exercise”. Some exercises increase the pressure on the discs, such as movements involving bending and twisting of your trunk. Other exercises put more pressure on your joints like hyper extension movements. Are they bad exercises? Not necessarily…If your tissues are fragile (for example after an episode of back pain), some exercises should be modified-at least temporarily-so you don’t aggravate your symptoms. In general, your body is a good guide to let you know if you are irritating a structure that is fragile. The secret is to go gradually and make sure that any increase in pain or discomfort does not linger.

In summary, exercise has been shown to be effective for treating low back pain on multiple occasions. The problem is that many people perform exercises without the strength, flexibility or lumbar stability required in order to safely perform these exercises…which leads to pain. Instead of completely avoiding a particular movement, it is best to adjust the exercise to minimize stress on the lumbar spine- for example by focusing on better posture. It should be noted, however, that in specific cases, relative rest should be observed and some exercises may be completely contra-indicated (contact your health care professional if in doubt).

If you want to know more about managing your back problems, sign up for our newsletter and receive regular educational emails about treating low back pain. Also visit www.lombafitstudio.com to get your free information booklet: The 5 truths about your back problems that will change the way you view your back problems

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