Exercises For A Healthy Spine
by Edwin Chun, D.C., CPT master level ACSM, NASM
Back pain is one of the leading causes of pain and disability in our society. Even healthy young people can experience it and about 80% of people will experience a significant event in their lives that causes low back pain.
There are many different causes to back pain, some being simple such as physical injury to some being complex such as internal diseases like kidney disease and cancer. Also, there are different presentations to back pain. Some have simple pain in the back or neck (spine) to more complex symptoms such as pain in the spine with pain in an arm or a leg.
In addition, there are different qualities to the pain such as sharp, stabbing to dull, throbbing which depend on the pain generators in the body. Many people experience back pain and simply choose to ignore it and wait for it to go away. Even in the medical community about 20 years ago, doctors were trained to tell patients not to worry about common back pain complaints and that most of the time it would just go away.
The only treatment given for back pain was pain medication. This was before the opioid epidemic that caused many people to lose their lives to addiction. Now medical doctors are trained to encourage patients to see other healthcare providers such as chiropractors and physical therapists without using medications.
Some simple concepts to understand with back pain
- If it really hurts avoid doing things that increase pain such as physical lifting, exercise, etc.
- Try to immobilize the area during the acute phase when pain is severe by using a brace. It may even help to use a light cane to aid in walking for a brief period.
- Anti-inflammatories will help during the acute phase, like over the counter medicines, herbal supplements, etc.
- Rest will help heal.
- Ice will help during the acute phase to decrease inflammation and block pain. A simple cold gel pack for 10-15 min on the area a few times a day.
When the acute phase has passed a few days, therapeutic exercises will help improve the condition. Many patients continue to perform therapeutic exercises for their back regularly to maintain a strong healthy spine.
Let’s look at some common back stretches and exercises you can perform at home or at the gym for a healthy spine. (If your pain increases with any movement do not perform it, only do exercises that your body tolerates).
Download: Basic Exercises for the Low Back