By Muscle Media
If you’re one of the millions of people that suffer from lower back pain, you need to know that exercise can do wonders for you. When it comes to relieving lower back pain, exercise provides more long-term relief than many pills that your doctor can give you. The fact is, pills only serve to mask the problem by providing temporary relief from the pain. But, the problem causing much of the pain is still there. Exercise will strengthen the muscles that support your back, improve flexibility, and greatly reduce the chances of future episodes.
You should be doing a threefold program of exercise that include aerobics, resistance, and stretching exercises. Aerobic exercises such as walking and bike riding will get your body conditioned properly. They strengthen your heart and lightly work your muscles. Resistance exercises like weightlifting will strengthen the muscles that support your back. Stretching exercises will increase flexibility, giving your back a greater range of motion. Your doctor can guide you as to when and how much of each exercise you should be doing.
For people with lower back pain, the best aerobic exercises are low impact. They include swimming, walking and bike riding. Jogging, dance aerobics and step aerobics all produce repeated impact on your back, knee, and hip joints. To get the best results, start with 15 minutes of light aerobic work per day, 2 to 3 times per week. Then gradually build yourself up to 30 to 40 minutes per day, 4 to 5 times per week.
You should be working enough to raise your heart rate from 65% to 85% of your maximum. (Determine your maximal heart rate by subtracting your age from 220). Whether you are walking, bike riding or doing any other aerobic exercise, always maintain good posture. This means sit up straight, stand straight and do not slouch or lean forward. Good posture is essential to any good exercise program.
While resistance training, you want to concentrate on the abdominal muscles. These muscles play a major role in giving your lower back support. The stronger they are, the more relief for your back. Also important is to perform exercises specifically designed to strengthen the lower back muscles themselves. You will benefit from working each muscle group 2 to 3 times per week. You may want to hire a qualified fitness trainer to design a resistance program that is right for you.
Remember that while resistance exercise is great for strengthening targeted muscles, there should never be any pain involved. Some discomfort should be present while performing the exercises, but it should subside shortly after the exercise. If there is any significant pain during the exercises or if discomfort persists for some time after, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Exercise should be discontinued and your doctor should be consulted immediately.
Stretching should involve 10 to 15 minutes of moderate stretching per day. This is usually enough to get the job done. You want to concentrate on stretching your hamstrings which are the muscles in the back of your upper legs. Loose hamstring muscles offer a better range of motion for your back. Flexible hamstring muscles do not strain on your lower back as tight ones do.
Stretching the lower back muscles is also a must. Sit with your legs flat on the floor in front of you. Slowly reach for your toes until you can’t go any further. Hold for 10 seconds, and sit up. This is a great exercise to stretch both your hamstrings and your lower back. Repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times each day.
While there are no miracle cures for lower back pain, you can make living with the condition much easier to deal with. Simply incorporate some exercise into your life each day. It’s worth the effort to give up 30 to 40 minutes per day, 4 to 5 days per week to exercise away your lower back pain.