Specific back exercises are almost always necessary to rehabilitate the spine and ease back pain. However, a controlled, gradual exercise program that is provided by a health practitioner (either by a Physiotherapist or an Exercise Physiologist) that is tailored to an individual is usually the most effective.
While a typical response to back pain is to take it easy – either staying in bed or stopping any strenuous activity – resting for more than a day or two can undermine healing and worsen pain.
Benefits of Exercise
When done in a controlled, progressive manner, exercises for relieving back pain have many benefits, including:
- Strengthening the muscles that support the spine, removing pressure from the spinal discs and facet joints.
- Reducing stiffness and improving mobility.
- Improving circulation to better distribute nutrients through the body, including to the spinal discs.
- Releasing endorphins, which can naturally relieve pain. Frequent release of endorphins can help reduce reliance on pain medication. Endorphins can also elevate mood and relieve depressive symptoms which is a common effect of chronic pain.
- Minimising the frequency of back or neck pain episodes, and reducing the severity of pain when it does occur.
- Exercise as Prescription for Back Pain.
An effective program of back exercises should be comprehensive, working the whole body even as it targets the back. Exercise can be thought of as any other health prescription: A qualified health professional will customise exercise based on a variety of factors. These factors typically include:
- The clinical diagnosis
- Whether pain is considered mild, moderate, or severe
- The pain relief necessary to tolerate activity
- The frequency of prescribed exercises
- The correct form and healthy posture & optimal technique required for performing exercises
- Maintaining the Exercise Program Over Time
Adherence to exercise is one of the most important factors for long term pain relief. One of the most common reasons for lack of adherence to exercise is increased pain caused by activity.When this is the case, an exercise professional within the MD Health team can provide support and incorporate pain reduction/ management as primary parts of the exercise program. It is important to us that your experience is a positive and an enjoyable one to ensure the best outcomes.
Exercise is Medicine Australia (2011). Exercise & Low Back Pain. Retrieved from https://exerciseismedicine.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/LBP_full.pdf
Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. Healthcare, 4(2), 22. doi: 10.3390/healthcare4020022
Jonas J. Gopez, M. (2018). Exercise and Back Pain. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-and-back-pain
Written by Andrea Matias, MD Health Exercise Physiologist
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