Exercises to Safeguard Your Back
Stretching and an active lifestyle are often recommended to help reduce back pain and speed the recovery process following an injury. Improving flexibility through stretching is also an excellent way to avoid future injuries.
Depending upon one’s individual injury and level of pain, the exercise and rehabilitation program may vary. The key is to start slowly and increase the repetitions as you feel stronger. Consult with your doctor of chiropractic prior to starting a new exercise program, especially when associated with low-back pain. He or she can help develop an individualized program and provide instruction on proper stretching technique.
Passive stretches help facilitate movement in the affected muscle or joint. Stretches should be held for 15 to 30 seconds, allowing the muscles to gradually relax and lengthen. Stretches should never cause pain nor should you feel tingling in the extremities. Stop immediately if you experience any discomfort.
Lie on your back with both legs straight. Bend one leg at the knee and extend one leg straight up in the air. Loop a towel over the arch of the lifted foot, and gently pull on the towel as you push against it with your foot; you should feel a stretch in the back of the thigh. Hold 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat 3 times per leg. This stretch may be performed several times per day.
The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back and leg pain. To stretch this muscle, lie on the back and cross one leg over the other; gently pull the knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area. Hold 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat 3 times. This stretch may be performed several times per day.
Lie on your stomach. Use your arms to push your upper body of the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Let your back relax and sag. Repeat. This stretch may be performed several times per day.
Active stretches facilitate movement and improve strength. Stretches should never cause pain nor should you feel tingling in the extremities. Stop immediately if you experience any discomfort.
Lie on your stomach. Tighten the muscles in one leg and raise it 1 to 2 inches from the floor. Do the same with the other leg. Repeat 20 times with each leg. This exercise may be performed several times per day.
Lie on your back with your knees flexed and your feet flat on the floor. Keep the knees together. Tighten the muscles of the lower abdomen and buttock; slowly raise your hips up from the floor and then lower them back to the resting position. Repeat this exercise 20 times. This exercise may be performed several times per day.
Kneel on mat on hands and knees, with palms directly under shoulders and knees hip-width apart. Slowly raise your right arm, and extended forward parallel to the floor. (Balance by contracting your abdominal muscles.) Keep right palm parallel to the floor, then lift the left leg, and straighten it behind you. Hold opposing limbs off the ground for 30 to 60 seconds without arching your back. Switch side. Repeat 3 to 6 times.
The Cardio Component
Most health care professionals recommend 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to four days per week to improve endurance and help lose weight. Until you’ve recovered from back pain, select low-impact activities that burn calories, but won’t place undue stress on your joints. Also, before beginning a vigorous exercise program, check with your physician to rule out any possible cardiovascular health risks.