What’s wrong with avoiding exercise?
Nothing for the first couple days after an injury or acute flare-up. It’s vital to take care of it. It’s important to rest an injury – and to have adequate relief of pain. If you don’t do that you might not be able to get back to your baseline. While bed rest used to be recommended for longer after an acute injury, becoming active sooner has been found to be the better way. If you can’t get up and about or do gentle exercises in a few days or so you need to see your doctor and find out what’s going on.
I mean after all, my back hurts – naturally I don’t want to hurt it any more. I’m afraid it might make it worse. But if you have well established stable chronic back pain, not an acute flare-up, you are better off to get in the best shape you can by gradually becoming more active. Be sure to do stretching and strengthening back exercises. Literally if you don’t use it you lose it. If you don’t exercise your back muscles, they’ll just get more out of shape and weaker. And when you need them the most they won’t be strong enough to protect you.
Don’t exercise and you may be setting yourself up for injury and more pain. Exercise, on the other hand may give you endorphins, the body’s own painkiller, elevate your mood, boost your confidence, and give you more energy while strengthening your back muscles and helping prevent injury. That in addition to other obvious health benefits. When I began regular exercise I lost weight I had gained while being inactive, and that helped the back pain and my self esteem.
What kind of exercises should you do? It depends on your own particular needs. Since you don’t want to hurt yourself, it’s wise and a good investment to get professional advice as far as the specific exercises best for you.
I have taken plenty of physical therapy, which helped, and followed instructions for home exercises that I was given. Though I was very motivated and committed to doing them, I continued to have limitations. When a very good exercise physiologist gave me just a couple of pointers, I started making lots more progress. I learned the active-isolated method and started working smarter with another and related weak link, a knee, as well. It made all the difference in the world.
I’ve learned it’s most important to do it consistently, progressing gradually and carefully, paying attention to helping, not injuring yourself in the process. This is not to impress anyone or to win any competitions. This is far more important. This is to make you feel better and stronger and more confident and to be able to do more, function better and have less pain. It works for me.
When I miss my exercise I hurt more, and if I don’t exercise for several days I can become bedridden that fast. And that leads to more pain too. I enjoy exercising, after I get started that is, and I use Pilates and a semi-recumbent bicycle every day. That way I can get the exercises I need while protecting my back in the process. Before Pilates I could not walk very far outdoors. Now walking outdoors in nature is healing for me too.
I have chronic back pain, but it’s not the end of my life. I’m learning from it. It’s a pretty good teacher. Life is good and I can do quite a lot as long as I use the tools I’ve learned. That way I can be in charge rather the pain in charge of me. To your good health, Dr Joan
Information shared here is not intended as medical advice, and cannot substitute for professional medical advice and information. Information provided is general in nature and may be helpful to some people but not others, depending on their personal medical needs. Always consult with your personal physician before changing or undertaking a new exercise program or following advice designed for general audiences only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay getting care because of something you have read here.