Have you ever been unable to put on your socks in the morning because it hurts to bend over? Have you ever had to curl your spine before you sneeze so that your back doesn't spasm and drop you to the floor? Does your low back pain improve only to recur after a simple activity such as reaching into a cooler?
Nearly 80% of Americans report experiencing low back pain as least once in their lifetime. Many seek treatment in the form of balms, braces, electrical gadgets and bone crackers. While these may provide temporary relief, the best scientific evidence points to staying active and focusing on strengthening the abdominal and back muscles that hold the spine erect. Known as "core" exercises, these movements can help stabilize the spine and offload the discs and bones thereby providing pain relief.
Why exercise helps:
Humans were designed to be active, they were not meant to be sitting in front of the TV binge-watching Netflix for 8 hours. Furthermore, we spend too much time sitting behind desks at the office (not to mention in traffic), which leads to weakening of the core muscles from disuse. In simple terms modern humans live a sedentary lifestyle compared to our forbearers that make for weak backs and ultimately back pain.
What can you do?
In my practice low back pain treatment starts with a visit to a physical therapist. Physical therapy has been shown to return low back pain sufferers to pain free activity faster than medications alone. After the back pain resolves it is up to you, the patient to keep your back strong.
What I do for my back?
As a back pain sufferer, I know how annoying it can be to have to curtail my activities when my back hurts. I have gotten involved in a CrossFit class that I do religiously several times a weak. In this class, we not only focus on core stability but also on strength training which is important for osteoporosis prevention and muscle mass maintenance. There is also an emphasis on cardiovascular exercise to keep the heart strong. Probably the biggest advantage of this type of exercise is the community of fellow exercisers that encourage each other to stay involved.
So, the next time you find your back hurting from too much sitting or inactivity, give CrossFit a try. You may find it's a great fit for you!
Dr. Bennett Grimm is a Board Certified Spine Surgeon serving the greater Acworth, Canton, Marietta, Woodstock communities.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.