What to do when back pain derails your daily activities? Dr. Taglio joins us with some helpful advice and encouragement for what you can do to stay as active as possible and promote healing.
Fitness and exercise have always been an important part of my life, however, there was a time in my life that due to a severe back injury, I was unable to do the things I always loved to do, let alone maintain my fitness. Even the simplest activities were difficult. I have been fortunate to have completely overcome this past injury and am now comfortably able to continue and enjoy fitness activities without the pain of my past. Many people deal with pain on a regular basis and find it difficult to be consistent with their fitness goals and experience frustration from their set-backs. There are a few things you can do to help prevent an injury at the gym, help heal your injury and keep any current pain from getting worse.
Warm Up/ Cool Down Properly - It is important to warm up your body and get blood flowing to your muscles so they are more pliable and less prone to injury. Don’t forget to stretch post-workout. You can also implement ice-therapy on your painful areas when you are done stretching.
Posture Check - Exercising while using poor posture is a sure way to initiate pain. It is crucial, if you have never worked with a trainer to check on your form to hire one to help you get your form dialed in. Poor posture can create excess pressure on your back muscles and spine. If you have body imbalances and weak areas, it can be difficult to correct your posture and form at first. Keep working at it and you will get stronger. Always “bend your knees to lift with ease,” and keep your back straight. Studies show that the most common injuries among weightlifters are to the spine, shoulders and knees. Keeping your spine neutral will help protect you from injury and is the strongest, safest position for your spine.
Start Light and Train Slow- Implement low weight with high repetitions. Good form is hard to achieve when using heavier weight, so master your form and technique before you graduate to heavier weight. Do not be impatient, your strength, confidence and ability will improve gradually. It is not worth it to rush through this phase and start out to heavy or do too much to quickly and get injured right out of the gate or aggravate an old injury.
Pain Check - If you are experiencing back pain, it is best to avoid workouts that target the back. It is best to ease into strengthening your back with yoga or pilates before moving onto more intense back workouts. Modify your exercises to reduce stress on your back by opting for back-friendly exercises and avoid lifting weights overhead. Avoid activities where you must bend or compress the spine. Support yourself using a chair or other props. When in doubt, slow down your routine and focus on form.
If you have back pain, avoid:
- Superman Back Extensions - Do the Bird-Dog exercise instead - get on your hands and knees, while engaging your stomach muscles, lift and extend one leg behind you to hip level without tilting your pelvis. Raise and extend the opposite arm to shoulder level and hold.
- Twisting Movements
- Sit ups
- Standing Hamstring Stretches (toe touches) - instead, do seated hamstring stretches, or lie on your back, wrap a towel around your foot and use it to pull your leg up and straighten your knee.
- Avoid exercises that involve extreme or abrupt moves, such as deadlifts or clean-and-jerks. Focus on slow, steady resistance training.
Build Your Core and Glutes - Abdominal and gluteal strength is the key to a healthy back and back pain prevention. Here are a few exercises you can start with:
- Transverse Abdominis Strengthening - lie on your back with knees bent, bring belly button towards the spine while maintaining a neutral spine. Exhale and reach towards the ceiling as if trying to reach for an overhead bar, raising your head and shoulders off the floor, just to where the shoulder blades are barely touching the floor. Hold 1-2 seconds, inhale and return to starting position.
- Gluteus Maximus Strengthening - Lie on a bench on your stomach with hips and legs off the end. Tighten buttock on one side and extend the leg toward the ceiling, while keeping the spine neutral, keeping movements slow.
- Gluteus Medius Strengthening - Lie on your side with your back against a wall, bringing your belly button in while keeping your spine neutral. Raise your upper leg with toes pointed to the ceiling and heel maintaining contact with the wall and hold.
Pick Up Weights Correctly - Good form while performing the exercises is important, however, how you pick up and put down your weights is just as important. People get injured from these transitional movements between sets too, so stay focused.
Check Your Shoes - Make sure your shoes are providing the proper support to your feet with insoles that are right for you. It is important to replace your shoes every 3-4 months depending on your activity level. Worn out shoes that are not supporting your feet properly, can be the source of back pain. A good pair of shoes will help your posture and maintain good alignment from your feet throughout your spine.
Maintain A Healthy Weight - It is easy to gain weight when you have an injury. Excess weight will put extra strain on your spine and back muscles. Focus on good nutrition if you aren’t able to get your workouts up to where you need them to be just yet. Stay active by choosing gentle, low impact exercises.
Keep Your Spine Aligned - Existing conditions may limit your activities and performance and getting adjusted can manage and prevent back pain while working out. Research suggests that following a prevention plan can be the best way to avoid back pain. If you suffer from back pain, consult your chiropractor before starting a new exercise routine so they can recommend targeted back strengthening and flexibility exercises, which can help treat and prevent back pain. Chiropractic treatment will help restore mobility and flexibility to your spine, improve nerve flow and allow you to stay active and be pain-free. If you do get injured, a chiropractor can assess, diagnose and develop a treatment plan for your recovery.
As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.
The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.