“The natural response to pain is to do less, but the opposite holds true” with back pain symptoms. On the contrary, exercise helps muscles relax and increases blood flow to the area.
- Taking to bed for more than a day or two may make your back-pain symptoms worse, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Tip: Walk 10 to 15 minutes twice a day at a moderate pace.
- Do back-friendly stretches in the morning and evening, 8 to 10 times each day. Example: Back-pocket stretch: Stand up and place both hands behind you as if putting them in the rear pockets of your jeans; look up and extend (arch) your back. and, Press-ups: Lie on your stomach and place your hands on the floor as if you were starting a push-up. Press just your upper body up, allowing your lower back to sag by keeping your hips close to the ground. Hold for a few seconds. Make it a ritual.
- Avoid sitting for hours without using your chair’s back rest and standing with locked-out knees (where they’re straightened to the point that they’re hyper extended backwards, putting pressure on the joint). If your back feels better with your knees bent, you probably have extension syndrome. Also, when lying on your back, put your feet near your behind or on a chair or bench.
- If it hurts on twisting towards one or both sides, you probably have Rotation syndrome which occurs when the spine is permanently rotated in one direction. It often results from repeatedly rotating in a direction, such as to look at a computer monitor or reach a desk drawer or other frequently used object kept off to the side. Smart Tip: Try to center the spine through core-strengthening exercises.
- If you practice sports avoid turning too much in either direction. Be careful with sports like tennis or golf, which can increase the imbalance. Consult with a professional familiar with biomechanics (such as a golf pro) who can suggest ways to modify your moves.
- If workouts hurt, focus on stabilization moves like planks. Do it for 10 to 20 second holds for 3 to 5 repetitions.
- Practice good posture. Align your spine a few times a day by standing straight, lining up head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. This helps alleviate tension when you have lower-back pain.
- If you have posture issue, wear shorter-heeled shoes. Wearing high heels may also contribute to an unstable postural alignment.
- Regularly practice stretch cat-cow stretch: Start on your hands and knees with your back straight and your head and neck in line. On an inhale, drop your belly toward the ground and look up toward the ceiling (cow pose). On an exhale, tuck in your stomach, arch your back and lower your head to your chest (cat pose). Do it gently and stop if you feel any pain.
- Always warm-up before any exercise for 5 to 10 minutes with a low-level cardio routine (such as walking). This gets blood circulating and may help you avoid injury or worsened back issues over time.
- If you lift weights, use correct form and weights you can handle. (Weight machines may be easier to control than free weights, especially if you’re inexperienced.) Also avoid exercises in which a weight rests on your shoulders, such as weighted squats.
- High-impact activities – running, jumping, step aerobics, basketball and anything that puts stress on your joints should be avoided until pain subsides. Swimming can help ease the pain, and is a good, non-impact aerobic exercise that doesn’t put pressure on the spine.
Last but most important, Do not ignore the pain and continue to work out. This can cause further damage.