The lower back is the pivot point of the body, bearing most of the weight with only a tiny spinal column and a few muscles to hold it all up. We add a lot of stress to our backs, by lifting and twisting in unnatural positions and by not exercising to strengthen back muscles. If we're lucky, the pain we get in our backs is only muscle strain. If not, it could be arthritis, osteoporosis, disc injury or fracture. This article offers simple exercises to strengthen the back, preventing or relieving back pain.
See A Doctor: This is a great place to start with back pain. Many injuries and strains can cause back pain. Only some of these can be relieved by exercise. In many cases, the other injuries can be worsened by trying to exercise. While it's a good idea for any kind of back pain and before starting any back exercise routine, it's essential to see a doctor in every case where numbness or sharp pain is experienced. Don't be like my brother, who pressed on through the pain only to require major surgery to reinforce his lower back.
You Can't Exercise Bones: What my brother didn't realize is, you can't exercise bones....all you can do is further harm them. What started as a simple dislocation ended with several of his vertebra being fractured because he refused to heed the pain warnings his back was giving him. Whether we like it or we think it's convenient, the pain is there for a reason. We ignore it at our own risk. Have I warned you enough to see a doctor? Good!
Preventing Back Pain: The old adage, "lift with your legs" comes to mind. So many of us try to lift with our backs bent over, it's amazing there are so few injuries. When we bend our backs to lift, we force our spine and those few muscles to lift the weight of our package and the weight of most of our body at the same time. Because of the leverage involved, we're putting several hundred pounds of pressure on a structure less than 2 inches in diameter. When you lift, keep your back straight, your knees together, lift your head back to look straight ahead. Then your legs, with their strong bones and huge muscle groups, do the work.
Another way to prevent back pain is by stretching after any activity that requires back work, including gardening, swimming, rowing, running, walking, sports, bicycling, etc. Just stand on a level surface with your feet straight ahead and a natural distance apart. Slowly bend over at the waist and hang there with your arms hanging down for about a half minute, then slowly straighten back up. This stretches all the muscles in your back from the knees to the head. I've found it's necessary to do even after fishing or long drives.
Simple Back Pain Exercises: 1. Push-backs: This exercise helps us prevent back pain by avoiding weight gain. Just push back from the dinner table a little early. 2. Abdominal pressure: Sometimes our muscles pull us out of alignment. We can ease this pain by laying flat on our backs on a hard floor, with our knees up, literally pushing down with our stomach muscles. 3. Knee lifts: From the same position, slowly lift one knee at a time, using your arms to pull it to your chest. 4. Bending: Stand straight up on a level surface and slowly bend forward, back, Left and Right. 5. Light dumbbells: Standing straight up on a level surface with your feet about 18" apart, extend your arms slowly out to the sides and front with a dumbbell (2-5#) in each hand.
To prevent injury, don't ever try to force back exercises. Many repetitions of very light exercise is what's needed to strengthen back muscles. As the muscles get stronger, the pain goes away. This takes a lot of the stress off of the vertebra and allows the muscles to do the work.
I've known many people who work out for good looks and completely ignore the back. My brother is one who worked all the muscle groups that gave your that "buff" look. He's one of the best looking people I know who have severely limited mobility due to back injury. If you're going to spend the time to exercise at all, do it for fitness and physical ability...not looks. Once we've seen the doctor, we can prevent back injury and relieve back pain, simply by regularly doing the right exercises and back stretches. Back pain exercise are one area where an ounce of prevention is worth a thousand pounds of cure.
If you're looking to improve your health and fitness, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit. You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help. He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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