Low back pain is a common complaint among gym-goers and athletes alike. While it can be frustrating to deal with, there are steps you can take to work out safely and effectively with low back pain. As an evidence-informed chiropractor with training in functional movement, soft tissue work, dry needling, and acupuncture, I have seen many patients successfully manage their low back pain while staying active and fit. Here are some tips for working out with low back pain:
Start with a proper warm-up
Before you begin any exercise, it's important to properly warm up your muscles and joints. This helps increase blood flow to the affected area, reducing stiffness and promoting mobility. A good warm-up should include some light cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or cycling, as well as some dynamic stretches to activate the muscles you will be using during your workout.
Focus on core stability
The core muscles, including the abs, back, and hips, provide support for the spine and can help prevent low back pain. By incorporating exercises that strengthen these muscles, you can help reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall fitness. Planks, bird dogs, bridges, and even deadlifts are all great exercises for building core stability.
Avoid high-impact exercises
If you are experiencing low back pain, it's important to avoid exercises that put a lot of stress on the spine. High-impact activities, such as running and jumping, can exacerbate low back pain and should be scaled down until your symptoms begin to improve. Instead, try low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or walking.
Use proper form
Using proper form during exercise is essential for preventing low back pain and other injuries. Make sure you are using the correct technique for each exercise you perform, and don't be afraid to ask a trainer or coach for guidance. One of my previous coaches used to always say "if you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it fast". He focused a lot of energy on having us go through certain movements in the weight room really slowly. This forced us to work on our technique in real time and built up the stabilizing muscles throughout our bodies. If you experience pain or discomfort during an exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.
Don't overdo it
While exercise is important for managing low back pain, it's also important to listen to your body and not overdo it. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your symptoms improve. If you experience pain or discomfort during or after exercise, dial it back and take a break to allow your body to recover.
In conclusion, low back pain can be a frustrating condition to deal with, but it doesn't have to prevent you from staying active and fit. By following these tips for working out with low back pain, you can safely and effectively manage your symptoms and continue to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Remember to always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have a history of low back pain or other medical conditions.