Exercising is good for back pain… right? Well, it’s not as simple as that.
There are good and bad ways to exercise and when you have back pain, it can get much more complicated.
“Wear and tear on your discs is cumulative – it all adds up,” says Arya Nick Shamie, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and an Associate Professor of Spine Surgery at the University of California Los Angeles.
Irregular exercise is a big contributor to back pain, and the weekend warriors, those who are sedentary during the week and push hard on the weekends, are the face of this contributor to pain. “If you take on something tough after being relatively sedentary, you can seriously hurt yourself,” explains Dr. Shamie.
It’s not just the risk of injury while you’re doing the activity you have to worry about. “If you are doing high-impact sports without cross-training first to strengthen your core, your spine won’t have strong enough muscles to support the impact,” says Robert S. Bray, M.D., a neurological spine surgeon.
He recommends dedicating as little as 15 minutes three times a week to basic core exercises and stretching to help prepare your core for more intense workouts later in the week.
One of the best things you can do for exercise advice is to consult with a doctor who understands back pain, back injuries and how to treat them.
Chiropractors are specialists in treating back pain and can help develop an exercise program that is right for you.