Exercising With Lower Back Pain
Hypertension, which is defined as a chronically elevated blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg, affects nearly 50 million Americans. If left untreated, hypertension can dramatically increase your risk for heart attacks, strokes and peripheral arterial disease. Exercise not only improves the workings of the cardiovascular system, but can lower blood pressure as well. The key to maximizing the benefits of exercise is to follow a well-designed program that you can stick to over the long-term.
- The goal of exercise training is to improve overall fitness (cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, coordination and function).
- Talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program and ask if they have specific concerns about you doing exercise. Most people do very well with regular exercise and sufficient time, but some people do need surgery.
- The goal of exercise training is to improve overall fitness (cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, coordination and function) while minimizing the stress to the lower back.
- Choose low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, and cycling.
- Strong abdominals, back, and leg muscles are essential for helping you maintain good posture and body mechanics. Once the acute pain subsides, you can begin doing light strengthening-training exercises designed to help your posture.
- Yoga and tai chi may help relieve or prevent lower back pain by increasing flexibility and reducing tension. Be careful, however, not to do any poses that could exacerbate your condition.
- Start slowly and gradually progress the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Do low- to moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise for 20 to 60 minutes at least three to four days per week.
- Avoid high-impact activities such as running.
- While low-impact aerobic activities can be started within two weeks of the onset of lower back pain, exercises that target the trunk region should be delayed until at least two weeks after the first sign of symptoms.
- Never exercise to the point of pain—if something hurts, don’t do it.
Your exercise program should be designed to maximize the benefits with the fewest risks of aggravating your health or physical condition. Consider contacting a certified health and fitness professional* who can work with you and your health care provider to establish realistic goals and design a safe and effective program that addresses your specific needs.