Back pain will affect most of us at some point or another. While most back pain resolves itself within a few days of home treatment, if you experience regular back pain you may want to know what you can do to help minimize it.
Much of managing and treating back pain stems from strengthening the core and back muscles (postural muscles). Strengthening these muscles allows your body to better support itself meaning you are less prone to injury and back pain. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym and lift weights for hours a day; there are varying levels of activities that can help you minimize back pain.
Tai chi has been a popular exercise for many years, in particular, it’s been a recommended and commonly practiced exercise for seniors and those with limited mobility due to its slow and gentle nature.
Tai chi originated in China and is a form of martial arts that connects controlled breathing to slow, intentional movements. It is a very low-impact exercise that can be adjusted to suit even those who have mobility issues or injuries (for example, seated tai chi). It strengthens and stretches muscles through constant, slow motion with poses flowing into each other.
There has been lots of research into the benefits of Tai chi including improving back pain and helping manage symptoms of arthritis. Tai chi helps strengthen core and back muscles which help support you, improves balance, can make you more aware of your posture and can be beneficial for anxiety, stress and mood due to controlled breathing and mental focus.
Swimming and Aquafit
Swimming and Aquafit are great low-impact exercise options for those that have any sort of injury or condition that makes exercise difficult. The water counteracts the effects of gravity making movements easier on joints which is especially helpful for seniors, those with arthritis or osteoporosis and other conditions affecting the joints.
Swimming and aquafit are gentle ways of strengthening the postural muscles that allow for more support. The water provides light resistance which allows you to build strength without needing to add weights (though light hand weights are sometimes incorporated in aquafit).
However, if you are currently experiencing back pain you should be mindful of the swimming postures that you perform as any that require arching of the low back like breaststroke can aggravate pain and other symptoms. In these cases, it may be best to stick to light aquafit exercise, backstroke or other activities while you recover.
Pilates and Yoga
Yoga and pilates both focus on strengthening core muscles, increasing flexibility and balance making both exercises great options for those that want to help prevent or minimize back pain. While there is currently more research in support of yoga for back pain and various other benefits, there are some studies that show pilates can be beneficial as well. The main difference is in the style of practice that you prefer.
Yoga is a gentle way to stretch and strengthen your muscles that focuses on moving through poses in coordination with your breath. Both breathing and stretching can help with relaxing tension in your muscles and relieving stress that can contribute to back and other pain.
Pilates targets deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles which are particularly helpful in supporting the low back, a common area of back pain. Pilates can be a bit more “intense” for some, and you should work with a pilates trainer when you are new to the practice to find appropriate adjustments (if necessary) and help you avoid injury. If you are currently experiencing back pain, you may need to avoid certain postures but your instructor should be able to adjust your practice to incorporate gentle stretches and postures that may help relieve tension.
Regular Chiropractic Appointments
Exercise alone is a great tool for minimizing back pain, but if chronic back pain is a concern for you, maintaining regular chiropractic appointments can be an essential part of your treatment plan. Especially when beginning a new exercise regime, regular “maintenance” appointments at South Side Chiropractic can help you stay pain-free, reduce chances of injury and address symptoms or concerns that may arise from your new activity.
Additionally, your chiropractor has a wealth of knowledge and can help you form a plan to manage your back pain, including recommending exercises that may be best for your particular needs, activity level.
Back pain is a common complaint, but you don’t have to accept it as just “one of those things” that everyone experiences. There are things you can do that can help minimize your pain and your doctor and chiropractor can help you choose the right exercise for you and your particular healthcare needs.