Isn’t exercise bad for back pain?
Just the opposite, experts say. “The research is well documented: Exercise does a bad back good,” according to spine surgeon Jack Stern, MD, in his book, Ending Back Pain. “For most people with low back pain, physical activity plays a strong role in recovery.” A strong, well-conditioned back is better at withstanding stress and protecting the spine compared to one that hasn’t been conditioned through exercise. Some workouts, like the following ones, are better than others when it comes to healing an aching back or preventing pain in the first place. Make sure to check which everyday habits you have that are probably causing back pain, too.
In a 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine study, 228 adults were assigned to either 12 weekly 75-minute yoga or stretching classes, or to read a self-care book about back pain. Those in the yoga and stretching classes saw much greater relief of symptoms. Yoga not only helps strengthen the back, it also stretches and relaxes the muscles that carry pain-triggering stress. People with lower back pain specifically may benefit from stretching the hamstring muscles (this expands pelvic motion, reducing lower back stress) trying poses like a forward bend, standing bent over and holding the calves, or the classic downward-facing dog. Yoga’s gentle stretches increase blood flow to your back, which can help heal strains. If you have back pain, try a yoga class for beginners and let the instructor know about any pain zones. New to yoga? Here’s what yoga instructors want you to know before coming to class.