Exercising after a back injury
Exercising is always going to be beneficial when it comes to our backs, the question is when and how exercise can help recovery and prevent future issues. Back problems can arise in the form of sudden back injuries or chronic pain. In the case of chronic pain, gentle exercising can be undertaken while the pain is there. As for sudden back injuries, it is recommended to work out once the majority of the pain has resolved.
Either way, maintaining body movements is always recommended to aid recovery. Bed rest should only last up to a couple of days as extended resting periods incur muscle and bone loss, which makes the healing process more difficult.
Why is exercising important for back problems?
Fear of further injury or worsening back pain may lead to exercise avoidance. However, this approach is counter-productive as it leads to deconditioning of the core muscles, which makes the spine more vulnerable and prone to developing more problems.
Instead, it is essential to get back to exercise when it is safe to do so, and work on the muscles that support the spine. Abs, the lower back and core stability muscles are particularly important to keep your back protected and in the correct posture. Therefore, strengthening these muscles is extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing future issues. Working on flexibility is also great to aid movement and avoid pains caused by stiffness.
Before starting any type of exercise, make sure you have the approval of your doctor or physical therapist and do not push yourself too much too soon.
Begin by doing a gentle form of low-impact aerobics exercise, such as walking or swimming. This will activate the muscles that support the spine and regain normal flexibility through natural body movements. Gradually increase the level of activity and aim to undertake other exercises only when you feel ready.
At this stage, the focus remains on being patient and taking things slowly. Doing too much too soon is a common mistake which can cause more problems. Start at 50% of your ‘normal’ level and gradually increase by 10% each week if your symptoms do not flare-up. Additionally, remember to always warm-up, cool-down and stretch. Stay positive and do not fast track your return to exercise as it may cause more delay by leading to further injury. Remember that most injuries are temporary, and you will eventually return to your normal fitness level.
Listen to your body and do not power through pain that arises while exercising. While a little discomfort is OK, moderate to strong pains occurring after exercise are a sign that you have overdone it, so take a few days rest and tone your workout down.
Best exercises for back problems
It is recommended to stick to exercises that will aid recovery and prevent future injuries by strengthening the relevant muscles in addition to improving flexibility, mobility, circulation and posture.