Have you been suffering from an aching back? Don’t worry — it’s quite normal. About 80 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to suffer from back pains at some point in their lives. It may be a common scenario, but it doesn’t make it any less painful, and it can get in the way of things.
Back pains can mess up everything. From something as simple as sitting upright in a chair, to causing you massive discomfort while you’re trying to lie down on your bed at night, and it can even prevent you from being able to complete your usual workout routines, which could cause you to become unfit and make you put on weight.
Working Out With Back Pains
If you suffer from chronic back pains, does this mean you are doomed to never be able to maintain an active lifestyle or work out? Not quite. Physical therapists have stressed the importance of staying active — movement, in particular, is considered to be therapeutic and a necessary step toward rehabilitation. Sure, you might have to take extra care with regards to make sure load and range are modified, but it’s always a good idea to start off slowly.
Don’t expect to be able to jump right back in where you left off — that’s only going to make your injury even worse. The smart thing to do would be to slowly ease yourself back in. Be mindful of how you move and don’t move in a way that aggravates the injury. Forget about lifting the heavy weights you were once accustomed to and start with lighter weights instead. What you should be focusing on are “low-level” exercises, especially for your hip and spinal mobility and control.
Exercises For Specific Back Injuries
Depending on the type of back injury you have, there are certain types of moves that should and should not do, or else you could only make your condition even worse. Here are some recommendations that can help people who are experiencing mild to moderate pains on their back. Take caution that these are just a general guideline, and the pain that you’re experiencing is unique to you, and your body may respond differently to these exercises. If the pain does become more intense, it might be time for you to see a physical therapist.
Lower Back Pain
Pains in the lower back are one of the most common back pains that afflict many people. Common causes of lower back pain are improper technique when lifting heavy objects, sudden movements that place too much stress on the lower back, poor posture, and sports injuries. With lower back pain, your range of movement is less limited, but you should pay close attention to how your body responds. Deadlifts are an easy way to start, and they have been shown to relieve pain and increase activity. This exercise is especially helpful for people with solid back extensor muscle strength and low pain intensity. Other moves that focus on hip and thoracic spine (upper back) mobility — like the Brettzel stretch and squats — are also recommended.
Upper And Middle Back Pain
Upper and middle back pain can occur anywhere from the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. If you’re feeling any dull or sharp pains, or if your muscles feel tight or stiff, you likely have upper and middle back pain. Your focus should be on strengthening the posterior chain — the backmost muscles like your hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors. Exercises like rows, overhead presses, and lat pulldowns will help to build strength, while pectoral stretches will improve your mobility and help you to feel better as you move.
Pulled Back Muscles
Pulled muscles, also known as muscle strains, occur when the muscle is overstretched or torn. This usually happens when your muscles are fatigued, overused, or have been improperly used. Strains can cause pain and restrict your movement, and they can be treated with ice or heat packs. Working out with muscle strains is not recommended at all, and it can even be counterproductive to your fitness goals. Instead, focus on completing everyday movements until you do not feel any pain. Tasks as simple as tying your shoelaces or putting on your socks will require you to bend your back, and until you can do this without feeling any discomfort it would be better to avoid the gym.
Back Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are also known as muscle cramps, and they occur when a muscle forcibly contracts and cannot relax by itself. The intensity and pain range from mild, painless twitches to visibly throbbing muscles with severe pain. These spasms are caused by dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance in your system, muscle fatigue, and the most common of all — insufficient stretching before any physical activity. This is why fitness experts constantly stress the importance of warming up before exercising. If you are suffering from spasms or cramps, heat or ice packs can provide some relief, and massaging the affected muscles can help too. If the pain is too severe, skip the workout until you are feeling better.