While the common suggestion is often to “rest” when you are experiencing back pain, a little activity might actually do more for your back than bed rest. If you find a comfortable position while resting, go ahead and stay there for a while. However, get yourself up and moving as soon as possible. You want to train your back to function properly again, and the best way to do that is to move. Do something simple, like walking. You want to avoid any strenuous activities or exercises that might have triggered the pain in the first place.
Think about your posture too. Walk with your back straight, your shoulders back and your head up. This will keep your back aligned and not hunched. The nerves around your spinal column can easily get pinched or compressed if you do not have good posture, creating additional pain on top of what you are already experiencing.
Do strengthening exercises that will build muscles in your back, hips, stomach and shoulders. Stretching out these muscle groups may relieve your back pain. As you continue to exercise these areas and workout any strains or areas of tension, you will be less likely to feel pain in those areas in the future. When they are more flexible and stronger, you’ll feel better. Regular exercise in these areas will also help muscles to repair themselves more quickly. If you do injure yourself, your body will be able to recover faster and more thoroughly if you are doing regular exercises to prevent and treat back pain.
Cardiovascular exercise is also helpful in preventing back pain. Working out your heart muscle will keep you more energetic, providing endurance and promoting a strong, healthy body. Again, you’ll be able to speed up your recovery time if you are doing some sort of aerobic or cardiovascular activity on a regular basis.
As you exercise to treat and reduce back pain, focus on your legs, back, shoulders and stomach. Building a strong core will protect your back against injuries and help it to recover faster. As long as you are not doing anything too strenuous, getting regular physical activity will help your back pain a lot more than lying in bed and popping pain pills. You might also have problems with your alignment, so seek treatment from a chiropractor if you are not able to get rid of your back pain in a reasonable amount of time.
This post was written for Pilates for the People by Dr. David Kulla. Dr. Kulla is a licensed NYC Chiropractor and a nutritionist as well as owner of Synergy Wellness in Manhattan.