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Back pain and exercising

It is estimated that around seven in ten people will suffer from severe back pain at some time during their lives. Though it is common and uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be life-changing. If you are suffering from back pain, it is important to try stay active and resume your normal activities. There are several ways to stay active safely whilst suffering from back pain.

Types of back pain:

Pain in the lower back is particularly common, but back pain can refer to pain felt anywhere along the spine from the neck to the hips.

There are generally two types of back pain, non-specific and mechanical. But what is the difference?

Back pain is non-specific when there is no obvious cause, and this is quite common. On the other hand, mechanical back pain is when the pain originates from the joints, bones, or soft tissue in and around the spine.

Mechanical back pain is often associated with placing stress or strain on the back, which could have been caused by several things. For example, poor posture, lifting something incorrectly, and injury, or perhaps even feeling stressed or run down.

Conditions that can lead to back pain:

Though most back pain is non-specific and usually not too serious, there are several conditions that cause back pain which are. For example, a herniated disc (sometimes referred to as a slipped disc) or sciatica.

Occasionally, back pain could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a broken bone in the spine or an infection.

Worst exercises for back pain:

There are some exercises that will exacerbate back pain.

  • High-impact activities

Exercises and activities that put stress on your joints can increase back pain. This includes high-impact activities, such as running or jumping, which should be avoided until the back pain has subsided.

  • Lifting heavy weights

There is some uncertainty about whether lifting weights should be avoided whilst suffering from back pain. Though lifting weights with the correct form could be fine, it is important to keep an eye on the weight you are lifting and not lift anything too heavy especially if you are lifting it above your head.

  • Core exercises

Core exercises are important, as strengthening the core can promote good posture and improve stability. However, if you are suffering from back pain, some core exercises could make your pain worse. For example, sit-ups, crunches, toe-touches, or leg lifts can place additional stress on your back.

Exercising with back pain:

Staying active can be an important part of recovering from back pain, and there are plenty of ways to exercise safely without placing additional strain on your back.

Here are some examples of activities that can be done safely and help keep your back strong and healthy.

  • Walking

Walking is often overlooked as a form of exercise but at a moderate pace it can gently and safely work your muscles. It won’t place additional strain on your back and can also help to build stamina and burn calories.

  • Swimming

Swimming is a low-impact and aerobic exercise, but the water also adds resistance to your movement. Plus, most water exercises are safe for back pain.

  • Pilates

Pilates can be done on a mat or using special equipment, but it aims to strengthen the body with a particular focus on core strength. It can be beneficial for people suffering from lower back pain, and it also improves posture, muscle tone, balance, joint mobility and relieve tension.