If you have chronic back pain, then physical activity may seem like a thing of the past. Since physical activity is usually required to treat back pain, you may feel that your situation is hopeless. There are ways to exercise that have been adapted to your situation.
Yoga is an exercise program that focuses on building strength and flexibility through the assumption of various poses. There are numerous forms of yoga that emphasize different aspects of fitness. Refer to the article at Yoga.About.com for a summary of each type.
The types of yoga most suited to those with chronic back pain are Iyengar, Yin and Restorative yoga. The goal of Iyengar is to achieve optimal alignment of the body through the use of poses held for a prolonged period of time. Props may be used to support the body in these positions. Yin yoga emphasizes the importance of stretching deep connective tissues that support the joints of the body, particularly those needed when we sit for a long time. This is achieved by holding specific poses for prolonged periods of time. Restorative yoga focuses on passive stretching, using props to allow the body to remain in its poses for a length of time. This form is good for people with debilitating pain.
Dr. Kimberly Williams of West Virginia University and colleagues conducted a study on the effectiveness of Iyengar yoga as a treatment plan for chronic lower back pain. After 24 weeks, the yoga group had significantly less back pain than the group that sought more conventional methods, and after 6 months there was an even greater discrepancy. For more details on this study, see MedicalNewsToday.com.
Moving your exercise routine into the pool is a great way to get your body working without the jarring effects gravity can have on the spine.
Aerobic exercises increase the flow of blood through the body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the parts of the body. This blood can help to restore injured or degenerated areas of the spine. Spinal discs, which separate the vertebrae from each other and act as shock absorbers, degenerate over time; they do not absorb blood like they used to. Providing more blood to the area may help to rehydrate degenerated discs, or prevent premature degeneration.
Water aerobics can also help to build strength all over the body. Core strength is crucial to the health of your back. Muscles of the abdominal’s, lower back and hips must be conditioned in order to hold the spine in its proper alignment. Water resists motion; this builds strength in the same way that using weights does, but with less strain.
Water aerobics classes are fairly easy to find; most places with pools offer them.
No matter what your limitations due to back pain, it is possible to be physically active in some form. Taking this step can not only put you in a state of general fitness, but even eliminate your pain.