A few decades back, the recommended treatment for back pain was painkillers and bed rest. However, with research increasingly showing that inactivity actually undermines healing, doctors today are taking a different approach. Low-impact exercises, done in a controlled and careful way are now the common prescription for those suffering from back pain. But how does exercise rehabilitate an injured spine or alleviate back pain? Read on to discover why low impact exercise is important for back pain.
Zero Activity Causes Pain to Worsen
In the natural, exercise may seem counter-intuitive since putting more pressure to an already strained back can make matters worse. The truth however is that bed rest or minimal activity is what causes back pain to worsen. The human body requires movement and physical activity for various body parts including bones and soft tissues to remain in good condition. For this reason, inactivity causes a bunch of negative effects including stiffening, weakening, and de-conditioning of joints, muscles, bones, and soft tissues of the body. When this happens in the back, pain tends to aggravate, making it more difficult for healing to occur. As a result, pain can drag out for a while, with further inactivity only working to make things worse.
Another negative effect of inactivity is that it slows down circulation making it difficult for the discs of the spine to get the nourishment they need to stay healthy. With little nourishment, the discs then dry out and become inflexible causing an increase in pain. The situation can get even worse if the original cause of pain was damage to the discs.
Exercise Promotes Healing and Relieves Pain
Exercise in the case of back pain delivers the complete opposite effects of inactivity. For starters, exercise keeps things moving properly which means the required nutrients get to your muscles, ligaments, joints, and into the disc spaces throughout the spine. With these back structures properly nourished the back then starts healing itself, thereby eliminating the cause of the pain. Additionally, exercise prevents stiffening and weakening of back structures, thereby minimizing both severity and duration of back pain.
In addition to these 2 key benefits, exercising also helps to:
Strengthen the muscles that support the lower back, thus helping to speed up recovery
Improve your threshold for pain which helps to make back pain more bearable
Increase production of feel-good endorphins, which help reduce pain
Why Low Impact Exercise?
Although exercise plays a beneficial role in rehabilitating the back and alleviating pain, overexertion may cause further harm. Intense or high impact exercises put a lot of pressure on muscles and joints and will therefore cause an increase in pain or damage of spine joints and discs if done when the back is at less than 100% healthy. This is why low-impact exercises are the way to go for people suffering from back pain. Low-impact exercises are less jarring to body joints and less intense on the back. They therefore deliver the benefits of exercise without worsening back pain.
While back pain can be debilitating, a bit of low impact exercises can make the condition more bearable by significantly reducing both the severity and duration of back pain. So, make sure to stay active the next time you suffer from back pain.