Aches and pains are old news for most of us. Once you reach a certain age, you’re accustomed to a little discomfort here and there. Heck, you probably expect it. And while knee, hip and shoulder pain are among the most common types, the reigning champ continues to be back pain.
Whether it’s an uncomfortable bed, sitting for long days at the office or forgetting to stretch before a workout, your back will likely pay the price. So, why is it that back pain is so common?
Well, it’s complicated—literally.
Your back is made up of bones, ligaments and tendons, muscles and most importantly, nerves. It’s important to note that while the spine is the primary structure in your back, it houses a majority of the major nerves of your body, making your back especially susceptible to pain.
Unfortunately, though, when back pain strikes, the response that most people have is to limit physical activity, when the opposite may be more beneficial. Light exercise, like walking, can help promote circulation and keep your back in a neutral position.
Not only is activity the best medicine to help ease back pain, it can actually help to prevent it all together. You’re likely overlooking some of the best workouts that are not only beneficial for boosting strength and burning calories, but also building key muscles to support your back.
According to Michael Brockett, PA, a back pain specialist at GMC's Back Pain Center, here are 5 exercises every back needs:
Abs: Try planks instead of crunches.Crunches put additional stress on the spine as you must constantly bend to perform one. When performed correctly, planks can be a great way to maintain a stable back while toning your belly.
Back & Shoulders: Try lateral raises instead of the overhead shoulder press. Any workout that has you lifting weight overhead can cause compression in the spine. Too much weight or improper form can cause serious injury. Lateral raises work the same muscle groups without the added stress on your back.
Legs: Try the stairmaster instead of the treadmill.The high impact of the treadmill and the resulting strain on joints can increase stress on your back. The stairmaster is low impact and also requires the use of more muscle groups in the lower body, removing strain from the upper body and back. Be sure to use proper form, keeping the workload on your legs. Don’t lean into the handlebars for support.
Aerobics: Try swimming instead of high-impact aerobics classes. While the benefits of aerobics for strengthening core muscles is undeniable, the high-impact and turbulent nature of aerobics can exacerbate back pain. Swimming also works the neck and back, increasing strength in the muscle groups supporting the spine. For additional relief, try the backstroke and breaststroke as they require less trunk rotation than traditional swimming techniques.
Yoga: Yoga is one of the best exercises to reduce lower back pain. Even chronic pain sufferers have raved about the benefits of a regular yoga routine. It strengthens the entire core, increasing stabilization and support for the spine. You could also try hot yoga, as this can help in loosening tight muscles, but be sure to stay hydrated.
Don't let your back be a pain
While strengthening core muscles and taking proper care to prevent further injury is essential, back pain can be difficult to navigate on your own. How do you know when it’s time to turn to the experts for relief? GMC’s Back Pain Center takes all the guesswork out of where to start and what to do. From a pinched nerve to a bulging disk, the experts at the Back Pain Center will provide comprehensive care for your unique back or spine condition. You don’t have to live in pain, make an appointment today.