If you’re reading this it’s probably because you have, or have had, back pain. Most people do at some point. You’ve probably also heard that one of the most important things to do to prevent back pain is to exercise. Strengthening the muscles and building up endurance can help to protect against a lot of the common pain that people experience.
The trouble is that exercising can be difficult when you have back pain. Which movements can you make? Should you push through the pain or stop when it hurts? How much is too much? The good news is that there are some general guidelines about how you can best keep your back fit to avoid pain. Exercise should be controlled and without sudden, unexpected movements – think swimming, not judo. You should not experience any back pain during the exercise, but some muscle aches afterwards are perfectly normal. And even elite athletes have a limit to how much they can exercise in any given time, so you have to build up the work-load slowly. When your body is tired you’re more likely to hurt your back, so take a break when you feel like you’re forcing it. The bad news is that there are always exceptions. In some rare cases almost any exercise can make the back pain worse, while more commonly it is important to avoid specific movements, such as leaning backwards, twisting, or pushing hard with the legs. And often it’s hard to know what the exceptions are until its too late.
That’s why it’s important to consult an expert before starting any exercise program, whether it’s hiking, taking up golf or trying badminton. Particularly if you have back pain. A chiropractor is particularly well trained in recognising problematic movements and helping to correct them, so that you can find an exercise you enjoy to keep your spine healthy. Your chiropractor can test your movement and stability, identify the cause of your back pain and help you to find the right activity to relieve the pain and to stop it returning.