People often wonder what is the right thing to do when they start to feel the nagging sensation of back pain. Do you push through it going about your usual routines or completely rest? How active should you be, and can you still keep exercising? Often when people are in a good exercise routine they don’t want to stop and lose out on the progress they are making. So what to do…….?
Making good momentum and progress in your daily health practice involving diet and exercise can be cause for celebration, and when we get thrown an obstacle it can be discouraging and frustrating to get off the track we have disciplined ourselves to commit to. But….you do not want to put yourself at risk for making this injury into something worse than it already is. You definitely do not want to keep amping up you gym routine and pull or strain a muscle somewhere else in your body.
You don’t want to ignore the injury only to later find yourself unable to get out of bed, bend over to pick something up, drive in the car or even walk down the street- all because you kept working out when you body was sending signals to stop, modify and change course. .
Fortunately, when we heed to the initial warning signs and adjust accordingly we can put the breaks on the injury cascade- so no need to panic yet!
Don’t make this mistake……
People often gravitate to the two extremes of either complete rest or increasing their exercise intensity in order to break through pain patterns. All out compete rest and relying on medications, creams, ice or heat only- will not get your body moving safely again. Sometimes this sudden stopping of any movement can cause the tight muscles to become more rigid, at risk to further strain and the other ares of the body follow in a domino effect of compensations.
If your lower back pain typically comes and goes without any serious debilitation, gentle easy movement is often the right response. Gentle walking coupled with focused exercises that target core and back strength and mobility is often the best course. Be mindful when walking that you stay on a relatively flat surface, no crazy inclines, declines or uneven terrain. People make the mistake of going for a “nice easy beach walk” and end up even worse because of the slope and unevenness of the sand that challenges the stability of their walk.
As a low impact and natural movement pattern walking keeps your joint and muscle working, can help prevent the stiffening and further shortening of muscles or compensatory patterns to start to develop. Gently stimulating the large muscle groups of your legs, hips and torso can help keep your posture and gait normalized, as well as keep good blood flowing and all the healing nutrients your body needs in a state of injury or inflammation.
So what exercise can you actually be doing? High impact(jumping/running), uncontrolled ballistic movements or cardio that involves a lot of sitting hunched over often continues to tighten back muscles, and such extreme and intense activities could make the injury worse and increase the healing time. Which no one wants.
How doing Pilates can help ease your back pain……
People often think Pilates is just for women, ballerinas, super fit, flexible or coordinated people. Let me tell that it's not. Its adaptability makes it a safe choice for anyone, because it can be modified to meet your needs and where you are at right now. It is a mind-body centered form of exercise that integrates; breath, core & back unity, strength with flexibility, and it is supportive and gentle while still challenging.
The emphasis on coordinating the breath, correct spine and pelvic alignment as you perform smooth movement progressions increases your body awareness, helps decrease tension in your neck and back muscles.
You will learn how to heal and control your movement through movement.
Pilates exercises are focused to strengthen the “powerhouse” of the body or your “core”. Your core is comprised of the deep spinal and abdominal layers that wrap around and protect your spine.
The quality and precision of movement is valued over quantity of resistance or repetition. Pilates promotes stretching and flexibility with the integrity of muscular support, and movements are performed through the body’s available, controlled, and supportive range of motion. People sometimes jump intensely into Yoga to try to quickly stretch things out and put the emphasis on “going for the pose” putting themselves through difficult transitional and torquing movements-which put a compromised back in a dangerous position.
Pilates is also one of the best ways to promote postural strength and integrity, which helps protect your spine and back in all aspects of your daily life and fitness routines. Pilates exercises are typically performed in a reclined, sitting or supportive position without high impact or uncontrolled movements. This is why Pilates exercises are used in Physical Therapy to help rehabilitate injuries both acute or chronic.
Now you have some options you can explore when facing back pain: gentle walks and Pilates.
Both these modes of exercise can help you regain the strength and flexibility of your back, so you can return back to the exercises you love.
Pilates is also a great form of cross-training, enhancement for fitness and is a possible way to prevent injury or future back pain. Want to learn how Pilates can improve your back health? Just click on the button below to request our free E-Book on “Top 6 Ways Pilates: Improves Pain, Fitness & Prevents Injury”.
Or check out our FREE EBOOK to learn how to ease you Back Pain today & tips tp Avoid Surgery, Missing Your Workouts & Sports!
Or you can ask to speak to our Specialty Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor about your back pain and fitness and goals or obstacles, call here at (805) 941-0125.
Remember you are only as YOUNG & HEALTHY as your spine is FLEXIBLE & STRONG!
At Perseverance Movement Specialists & Pilates we help people aged 40+ stay fit, active and overcome mobility loss to be able to live the life they love without fear, limitation and depending on painkillers or procedures.
Yvonne A. Castillo, MSPT, DPT, CPT