How We Use Exercise to Treat Low Back Pain

How We Use Exercise to Treat Low Back Pain

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I truly believe that fitness is a vital extension of healthcare and a good fitness trainer can do just as much to maintain your health as most doctors. In my practice, I have always maintained great relationships with trusted fitness providers in my community to help co-manage patients. Unfortunately, over 80% of people will experience a severe bout of low back pain in their lifetime.

I believe that people who have never had low back pain, currently have low back pain, suffered from low back pain in the past, or have had back surgery will benefit from a proper fitness routine. Said another way, absolutely everyone can benefit from some form of regular exercise!

I want to provide you with a foundation of why fitness is so instrumental not just in your musculoskeletal health, but for your health overall. We’ll cover the health benefits of regular exercise more in later posts, so for now let’s focus on how a proper fitness program can promote a healthy low back and reduce your risk for low back pain later.

From Spine-Health.com, this summary of fitness and health reveals how valuable regular exercise can be for your spine amongst other aspects of health and wellness. Click HERE to read more on their website.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise and fitness are necessary for healing existing low back problems, recovering from back surgery, and especially for keeping the back healthy to help prevent (or at least lessen) future episodes of low back pain.

When done in a controlled, progressive manner, exercises for relieving back pain have many benefits, including:

  • Strengthening the muscles that support the spine, removing pressure from the spinal discs and smaller joints

  • Alleviating stiffness and improving mobility

  • Improving circulation to better distribute nutrients through the body, including to the spinal discs

  • Releasing endorphins, which can naturally relieve pain and can help reduce reliance on pain medication. Endorphins can also elevate mood and relieve depressive symptoms – a common effect of chronic pain.

  • Minimizing the frequency of back or neck pain episodes, and reducing the severity of pain when it does occur

  • Reducing the time to heal and recover from a low back pain episode

Exercise as Prescription for Low Back Pain

An effective program of back exercises should be comprehensive, working the whole body as it targets the back. Exercise is like any other health prescription: a qualified health professional will customize exercises based on a variety of factors. These factors typically include:

  • the clinical diagnosis

  • whether the pain is considered mild, moderate, or severe

  • the pain relief necessary to tolerate activity and patient’s lifestyle

  • the frequency of prescribed exercises

  • Movements or positions which aggravate or alleviate the pain

  • Correct form and healthy posture needed for performing exercises

Integrating Exercise with Chiropractic Care

·         Ideally, an exercise and fitness program should be integrated during all phases of treatment for pain relief and to improve the overall health of patients. If the pain is severe, however, patients may first need to be treated for the pain before starting a back-exercise program.

·         Proper assessment and treatment from a trained chiropractor can help guide your healing journey at every phase of care.

·         The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) figures out movement patterns from a clinical standpoint. The SFMA is a head-to-toe assessment to help bridge the gap from injury to return to sport or activities of daily living. The SFMA uses a series of movements and further breakdowns to inform the clinician of how best to approach care for low back pain. Those movements are:

o    Neck Range of Motion

o    Shoulder Mobility Test

o    Toe Touch Test

o    Standing Back Extension

o    Standing Torso Rotation

o    Single Leg Stance

o    Overhead Deep Squat

·         Adequate Ankle Dorsiflexion, Hip Stability (muscles), Hip Mobility (joint), Core Stability, and Thoracic Spine Mobility are key to preventing low back pain.

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Chiropractic care of the joints, nervous system, and muscles combined with the right exercises for you is a winning approach!

Whether you are an avid athlete, desk jockey, or active lifestyle person, integrating proper fitness with corrective exercises and body work is the key to preventing low back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. I hope you gleaned some valuable insights to implement immediately for better health. Stay tuned for another post detailing my favorite exercises to help get you out of low back pain and back to the gym, trail, or road!

Reference article: Fitness Fundamentals To Prevent Low Back Pain - CSA 2019