Spine Exercise Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can stomach exercises help my back pain?
Strengthening the abdominal and trunk muscles, and the core of your body, is one of the first steps towards improving your upright posture and alleviating low back pain. Poor posture is common for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, and this places a tremendous strain on the lower back and discs. By training your abdominal muscles to encourage a proper upright posture, back pain can be reduced to a significant degree. Try changing your posture right now while sitting at your computer and you will feel the difference. You are more upright, you feel more centered, and often your back will feel like it is better aligned. Then think about it in an hour or so, and you will find yourself back in a familiar “hunched-over” posture that is bad for your back. It takes dedication to strengthen your abdominal muscles and back muscles to the point where you sit and walk with better posture.
What if doing any exercise makes my back pain worse?
If you have not been exercising regularly, then is it common to feel more pain immediately after exercising and especially the next day. This is the beginning of a long-term process. Conditioning takes time and it is very natural to experience more pain at the beginning of an exercise program. People have a variety of ways of dealing with the pain that is created by exercising. Some people try to focus on inspiration statements, like “pain is the sensation of weakness leaving your body.” Other people try to concentrate on the feelings of well-being and relaxation that come at the end of an exercise session. You may have to experiment with several methods before you find one that works for you, but stick with it, and the benefits by far will outweigh the short-term difficulties. Don’t forget to stretch after exercising, drink plenty of fluids, and start with modest goals that you can achieve. Stay focused on the long-term goals of pain reduction. It is always best to start with a graduated program that begins with easy exercises and increases the frequency and difficulty of the exercises as time goes on.
Does being overweight make it harder to get relief from my back pain?
The short answer to this question is “YES“. There are many ill effects of being overweight, and losing excessive weight should be a goal for anyone who suffers from back pain. However, some of us were born with a metabolism that results in a tendency to carry more weight than others, or the changes that are required to loose weight are just too difficult to make. Unfortunately, being overweight places greater stresses on the spinal column, and it is clearly associated with a greater risk of having back pain. There is no question that if you are overweight and have back pain that you will benefit from weight reduction. The best way to begin is with gentle aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or bicycling. Many new indoor trainers (such as elliptical runners and stairmasters) feature ways of exercising that minimize the amount of stress that is placed on the joints of overweight people. This may be a good place to start.
Choosing a diet to follow can be very difficult. There are always fad diets, or regimes that promise miraculous amounts of weight loss in a short period of time. Reality isn’t that simple, and many people find that they yo-yo back and forth between gaining and loosing large amounts of weight. Most nutritionists would agree that long-term weight loss comes by both reducing the amount of calories that you eat every day and increasing the amount of exercise that you get regularly. Everyone has different preferences in this area, and a visit to your local bookstore will literally reveal thousands of books on high-protein diets, balanced diets, liquid diets, uncooked food diets, etc. Some experimentation is going to be necessary here before you find a program that works for you, but keep in mind that a regime based upon a well-balanced diet is going to be easier to stick with in the long run.