Daily moves to strengthen your core, prevent an agonising attack

Jennifer E. Engen

Ask your doctor what exercises you can take up after the pain in low back subsides

Photo : iStock

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low back pain is perhaps one of the most debilitating of injuries one may suffer in the course of life.
  • It could be your posture or your excessive sitting at the desk.
  • You can ensure through exercise routines that your core is so strong that you prevent the onset of the next attack.

The strongest of people find low back pain flares up the most debilitating of things. One can hardly move if one is in the throes of a low back attack that presents with stabbing pain. There is little one can do once the attack has set in. Some may reach for a numbing cold pack and wait for it to get better.

While it is true that most low back pain is the result of an injury, such as muscle sprains or strains due to sudden movements or poor body mechanics while lifting heavy objects, one also cannot rule out the same arising out of affliction by certain diseases, such as cancer of the spinal cord. a ruptured or herniated disc, etc.

Harvard Health experts feel one should look at these attacks as a form of opportunity. “An episode of acute low back pain is a call to action for people who are simply not exercisers,” says Dr Jeffrey N Katz, professor of orthopaedic surgery and medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It is a good time to make a commitment to exercise when you are starting to feel a bit better — typically in a few weeks.”

Is exercise the magic pill for low back pain?

No, not at all. First up, consult your doctor before you try anything on your own as this is only a piece to inform you of possibilities. Your doctor knows your health condition and is the best guide/judge. Tread carefully, especially if the pain traces to a problem in the spine, such as sciatica, or pain that radiates from the back down into the leg. The pain may be accompanied by a tingling “pins and needles” sensation. Under such circumstances, don’t begin a new exercise program without speaking to a doctor. So, though low back pain due to muscle strain or muscle spasm is amenable to exercise, the regimen is no silver bullet and no guarantee against future episodes of back pain. However, exercise could make it less frequent. “You could have a lower risk of flare-ups over the subsequent year,” Dr Katz says.

Thes “red flag” warrants immediate medical attention:

Harvard Health lists signals that your body sends to let you know that you must check out the same with a doctor immediately. They are:

  1. back pain with fever
  2. pain that does not improve or worsens
  3. numbness in the groin
  4. loss of bladder or bowel control
  5. leg weakness
  6. inability to find a comfortable sitting or sleeping position during episodes of back pain.

Don’t exercise when in pain:

Some well-meaning friends may suggest some stretching and strengthening exercises that seemed to have worked for them. But restrain yourself – though we do agree that extended rest is not good. When back pain is severe, remain up and around to the extent possible.

“If you have an episode of low back pain and try to start exercising the next day, that turns out not to be that helpful,” Dr Katz says. Instead, resume your normal activities as soon as possible, but avoid lifting heavy weights and engaging in physical activities that exert sudden stresses on your back, like jogging or shovelling snow.

When can one exercise:

When the severe pain subsides, gradually begin daily, gentle exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the lumbar spine. People who exercise regularly, compared with those who do not, tend to have fewer recurrences of back pain over time – thanks to the stronger and more flexible muscles.

Back exercise starter moves

  1. Starting with the knees bent, pull one knee to your chest and hold the stretched position for 5 to 10 seconds. Alternate sides; repeat 5 to 10 times each.
  2. Starting with the knees bent, pull both knees to your chest and hold the stretched position for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  3. Starting with the knees bent, flatten your lower back to the bed or floor. Hold the back flat for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. (All 3 illustrations, courtesy Harvard Health)

Can I prevent lower back pain?

According to Cleveland Clinic, though you can’t prevent the lower back pain that results from disease or structural problems in the spine, you can avoid injuries that cause back pain.

To reduce your risk of a back injury, you should:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight: Think of your body’s skeleton as a lever system. How much weight would one put on such delicate levers? Realise that excess weight puts pressure on vertebrae and disks.
  2. Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Nothing beats a strong core. Learn under a certified physical/personal trainer. Pilates and other exercise programs strengthen core muscles that support the spine. Find your favourite and useful moves.
  3. Lift the right way: Show some respect to the body’s capabilities and limitations. To avoid injuries, lift with your legs (not your back). Hold heavy items close to your body. Try not to twist your torso while you’re lifting.

https://www.timesnownews.com/health/lower-back-pain-daily-moves-to-strengthen-your-core-prevent-an-agonising-attack-article-90272911

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