When it comes to lower back pain, knowing what the best exercises to do are is one of the biggest challenges in overcoming that injury. Often we might think the best thing to do would be to rest, do the wrong exercises or even do the right exercises but at the wrong time. Knowing exactly what to do for the stage of recovery that you are at can help your lower body to recover. These exercises don’t need to be specific and be wholly appropriate down to the minutia level because in reality you cannot target a particular section of your spine, you need to strengthen the whole chain. Today we’ll explain why back pain happens, what the best exercises are and the process that Back In Shape follows in order to rectify your back problem.
Why Does Back Pain Occur?
Thinking ‘why me?’ may have often crossed your mind when struggling with back pain, especially as it may stop you from doing the things that you love or it may be a hindrance to your quality of life. Most back pain cases occur because of an accumulation of poor habits over time rather than a one-off trauma. We often just don’t associate that these habits have been a problem before because they don’t cause us a problem for so long, before they eventually do. Your spine is a load-bearing structure, but when it’s injured it’s because it’s failing to do this appropriately. The spine is naturally aligned in a way that allows it to naturally distribute your weight effectively, and it’s able to do this by putting no particular strain through any one joint. When you frequently adopt poor posture, your muscles and ligaments stretch to accommodate. Over time, as our body moulds itself to the positions we put it through, your alignment shifts into how you use it. Your body continues to try and distribute your weight but is unable to then distribute it as before, so more stress is put through certain joints compared to others. This leads to pockets of degeneration in the spine as well as conditions such as disc bulges occurring. It’s very difficult to injure just one structure as well, so if you do have an injury that develops it’s likely that multiple structures are affected.
How Does Back In Shape Help?
The Back In Shape program is split into three sections depending on each stage of rehabilitation. Doing too simple exercises may lead you to plateau and not see improvement long-term, while doing some exercises too soon may cause a relapse in pain, so it’s important you do what’s right for you and progress at the rate at which your body is recovering.
Phase 1 is designed to help with any first instances of back pain, a relapse, or if you’re in so much pain that you can’t move around. This step is all about helping your lower body to function more effectively, using the right stretches done with correct form to isolate a particular muscle. These stretches are not really designed to improve your flexibility as such, but they’re helping to take strain away from your back by helping loosen off areas of the body that can be particularly stiff. By taking the strain away from your back, it can start to recover by knitting the tissues back together and building new blood vessels. This phase also incorporates a two-step protocol to relieve pain and inflammation by helping directly take the pressure off. Using the towel stretch, which you lie over for just 3-5 minutes, helps to decompress the spine and let those structures recover. Combining this with an application of ice directly after will help to bring down inflammation, and should be used instead of any heat packs or hot baths to aid recovery.
Phase 2 should be moved onto relatively swiftly as it incorporates all the anti-inflammatory benefits of Phase 1 but with the addition of strength building exercises. These exercises are incredibly safe and are less strenuous on the body than household chores you might be struggling trying to do. While Phase 1 may help you to feel better, Phase 2 is designed to start strengthening your muscles so that they can help naturally take the strain away from your back. This is where the real difference and progress is made, so you should move onto Phase 2 as soon as possible. It can be difficult to accept that these exercises are beneficial, especially because you may be tempted to rest when you’re in pain, but resting will only degrade these structures further. Rehabilitation in any case cannot be avoided, so it’s important you start as soon as possible. Most of the exercises are done without weight-bearing, so you can start to challenge the core without load, and then challenge the lower body with your own body weight.
By the time you progress onto Phase 3, you’ll likely feel a little back to normal or well on your way to feeling so. At this point, progressing exercises with added resistance will help to continue to strengthen and tone your body. This stage should continue to help you essentially bullet-proof your body against injury, but you’re not quite out of the woods yet! It can take time for your body to fully heal from its back injury, so you should continue with these exercises into the future to help support your body. We’re often asked ‘when does rehabilitation stop’ but in reality, you should want to continue these exercises as they will effectively support you through your daily life. These are not just exercises to help specifically with back pain, but also ones that keep you fit and healthy day-to-day – a bit like brushing your teeth is a form of continual maintenance.
We hope you found today’s topic of exercises helpful if you are currently struggling with lower back pain. If you have any questions, please do feel free to get in touch as we’d be happy to help!