Wright Now Fitness: Keep Moving to Help Reduce Low-Back Pain

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Aaron Wright's Exercise Tips for Low-Back Pain

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Low-back pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages, particularly those who are 30 to 55 years old. Back pain is the second most common malady seen in doctors' offices and low-back pain is the second principal cause of work absence. If this is something that you have personally experienced, there is a lot you can do to improve your condition.

    For the majority of back ailments, although it might seem counterintuitive, active recovery is recommended by health professionals. Immobility including standing and sitting for long periods of time, and bed rest (except during times of severe pain) are not recommended, and can actually make symptoms worse. Additionally, returning to activities of daily life as soon as possible is an important part of recovery.

    Low-back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions including, but not limited to, sciatica, herniated discs, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, lumbar sprain or strain, compression fractures, and spinal stenosis. It is important to be examined by a physician because treatment can vary based upon the condition.

Exercise tips to help with low-back pain recovery:

  •      Low-back exercises have the most beneficial impact when implemented on a daily basis.
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  • Exercise that causes pain is not beneficial and can affect proper exercise performance.
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  • Low-back pain and function recovery can take as long three months or even more, so hang in there and stick with your program.
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  • Try to avoid any daily activities that cause pain in your lower back.
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  • Within the first two weeks that lower back symptoms first appear, most of the time, it is beneficial to engage in low-stress aerobic activities such as walking, swimming, and/or using a     stationary bike as soon as you can.
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  • Stretching will have the most affect on pain relief and strengthening will cause the greatest improvements in function.

    Once the initial low-back flare up has subsided, exercise becomes the main goal of lower back recovery and care. Core stability is a primary focus of low-back pain programs. The core is considered the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper and middle back), and lumbar (lower back) spine, as well as the shoulder and pelvic girdles. A lower back exercise program should target these areas with the intention of improving stability first, then muscle endurance, and then strength in order to increase stability, coordination, and efficiency during active movements.

    Learning how to find and maintain a neutral pelvis is one of the first important exercise goals to focus on. From a standing position, tilt your hips forward and then back as far as possible without changing the rest of your posture, and then find the middle point between the two extremes. This is your neutral pelvis and the position you want to maintain when performing lower back exercises.

    Spine stability is the next important exercise goal to focus on. This can be accomplished by learning how to brace your abdominal wall by keeping it mildly contracted.

    Often it is found that a person with low-back issues has trouble activating the gluteus muscle during squatting exercises which means that the individual uses the hamstrings and low-back muscles instead. The clamshell exercise, and as you progress, the single-leg squat are two exercises to help your body learn how to activate the gluteus medius.

    Core endurance can be increased with exercises such as the bird dog, supermans, planks, and bridges.

    Once core strength and endurance have been developed, the goal of low-back pain recovery should be to work toward returning to daily activities through dynamic stabilization which is performing dynamic (active) exercises while engaging the core to maintain spinal stability, such as exercising on an exercise ball.

Tips for how to maintain a healthy low-back:
    

  • Quit smoking! Smoking may decrease blood flow to the intervertebral disks which may lead to nutrient deficiency and lack of oxygen, and therefore, cell death.
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  • Keep moving! Regular physical activity may reduce and prevent back pain. Additionally, make sure to get up and move around frequently if you sit a lot or drive in the car for long periods of time.
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  • Stand up straight! Be mindful of your posture and try to create an ergonomic work environment.
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  • Do your cardio! Aerobic exercise can help to keep your disks healthy and may help reduce pain by releasing endorphins. Combining cardio with lower back exercises has been shown to be more effective in low-back pain recovery and prevention.

I will see you at your next workout!

Aaron Wright, AHFS, CPT
Look Younger. Feel Stronger. Live Longer.

Aaron Wright, AHFS, CPT, creator of the Wright Now Fitness System, a comprehensive dvd and digital exercise system "for everyone", is an ACE advanced health and fitness specialist, ACE certified personal trainer, orthopedic exercise specialist, functional training specialist, sports conditioning specialist, therapeutic exercise specialist, exercise programming expert, and health and wellness speaker.

Please visit us at http://www.wrightnowfitness.com for more information on our DVD and digital download/instant streaming workouts and more tips and advice on the benefits of exercise for low-back pain recovery and maintenance.

NOTE: Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

References
1. Solomon, Jennifer. (2012). Low-back Pain In Ace Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist Manual (pp. 489-507) United States of America: American Council on Exercise (ACE).

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Michelle Wright
Wright Now Fitness
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