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Exercise to reduce back pain
Old 01-27-2016, 11:06 AM   #1
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Exercise to reduce back pain

Get off that couch! This means you.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/0...xercise-is-in/

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In fact, “the size of the protective effect” from exercise “was quite large,” said Chris Maher, a professor at the George Institute, who oversaw the new review. “Exercise combined with education reduced the risk of an episode of low back pain in the next year by 45 percent. In other words, it almost halved the risk.”

Interestingly, the type of exercise program didn’t matter.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:15 AM   #2
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I totally agree! I would say it has to be judicious exercise, though.

For example - - when I was packing to move, I way overdid it while packing books and threw my back out. Unfortunately I did not have sufficient time to just stop and rest it until it got better so I kept going through some pretty intense back pain. I wouldn't recommend doing that. It still hurts now and then but less as time passes.

On the other hand, through the years I have made a point of gradually building up back muscle in my weight lifting routine. That type of exercise really worked. The muscle was protective and kept me from messing up my back sometimes when I otherwise might. It would have helped when I was packing to move, had I not exceeded the bounds of common sense at that time.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:43 AM   #3
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I throw out my back every few years. What I have found worked best for me is stretching my hamstrings which are always quite tight. If I keep at it, my back is better.


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Old 01-27-2016, 11:53 AM   #4
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I totally agree! I would say it has to be judicious exercise, though.
Agreed. My back goes out every few months, but I'm usually back to normal within 2 or 3 days. Core strength training and stretching have obvious benefits for preventing back issues, and aerobic exercise can keep one's weight down. I've found dropping just 5 pounds can make a big difference for my back.

I also think that being physically fit greatly reduces recovery time. With my latest episode of back pain, I was crooked and in a lot of pain for 2 days, but by day 3 I was doing light exercise, and a couple days after that I was back to normal. Reading about crooked backs on the internet, I learned that this condition usually persists a lot longer and is a lot more severe. Just one data point, but I've had similar experiences recovering quickly from other injuries.

The Catch 22 is that the stronger and more fit one becomes, the more active they can be, resulting in more opportunities to overdo it. When my back goes out, the direct cause is usually something trivial (picking up a gym bag, twisting to grab something, stepping on the pedal to open the trash can), but this usually occurs a day or so after I've had some really good workouts, from which I'm not completely recovered, thus my back is at its most vulnerable.
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Old 01-27-2016, 12:01 PM   #5
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I just went through a bout of lower back pain. This may be old news, but I found that four ibuprofen only took the edge off while two Tylenol Extra Strength totally killed the pain. The downside is that the Tylenol Extra Strength has caffeine in it and it gave me insomnia.

Back to the exercise regiment!
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Old 01-27-2016, 12:04 PM   #6
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Which Roger, sounds like you need truly good workouts. Maybe learn to recognize when you might be overdoing it i.e. prevent overuse injury.
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Old 01-27-2016, 12:28 PM   #7
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I throw out my back every few years. What I have found worked best for me is stretching my hamstrings which are always quite tight. If I keep at it, my back is better.

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In the 1970s, my Dad started having back problems. As an invincible teenager, he'd toted around heavy sacks of mail for in the mailroom of the the local newspaper. He tried a back brace. He tried cortisone injections. Nothing really worked till Mom got him a book called, "Backache, Stress and Nervous Tension" (I think) from the library. He started doing the exercises every night and the back problems went away. He also had really tight hamstrings and the exercises helped stretch them out. I try to be careful with that, too. Bicycling is my preferred exercise and it does nothing to stretch the hamstrings.
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:23 AM   #8
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Exercising your core, especially hip abductor muscles can help a lot in preventing lower back injuries, while Muscle Activation Therapy is very good for resolving lingering lower back problems.
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:46 AM   #9
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I am convinced the best exercise, by far, for back pain is a consistent regimen of swimming. Of course, I'm prejudiced because swimming virtually cured me of my back pain.
Several years ago my back spontaneously sent into excruciating spasms, and after 2 weeks the spasms subsided but I was left with debilitating sciatica. I stared swimming at the local Y pool, 3-4 times per week. Slowly and steadily, the sciatica improved until some 6 months later when it was gone.
I still can hurt my back if I'm not careful - and there are random days where it bothers me - but I maintain the swimming approach and for all intents and purposes do not have any real back issues anymore.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:11 AM   #10
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Mystang52, yikes you have really been through the ringer. Good that you found a way to reduce your back issues.

On another thread awhile back, I mentioned how good habits on minor things has helped me. Like not bending down to wash my face in the sink. DW suggested I use a wash cloth for that. It sounds kind of fussy to mention such little things but those daily stresses seem to add up with back stress. Then there is the winter chill which can contribute to back issues. And the gardening in the early cool spring. I try to wait for the warmer afternoon to do the gardening.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:35 AM   #11
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It has been years since I've used weight machines for work outs but when I did, a machine designed for back extension helped tremendously. A quick search tells me that those machines are designed to exercise the Erector Spinae muscles. Occasional back pain experienced yet, usually sudden but quickly gone - if it ever becomes worse I'd definitely be searching for that machine again, either to buy a good used one for home or to use at a local fitness center that has one.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:24 AM   #12
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I had debilitating back pain when I first retired in 2006. Took cortisone shots to get me going again. Since then I exercise every day with a view to keeping my back strong. So far it has worked. Focus on core strength, back extensions, cat's backs, hip stretches, planks, ab crunches, etc.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:57 AM   #13
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I gave up on specific back exercise as I didn't notice improvement. Not saying anyone else should. I just do walks and runs and concentrate on good ergo habits.

P.S. no one size fits all for this. I have some disc issues and others have their specific physical issues.
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:32 PM   #14
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It has been years since I've used weight machines for work outs but when I did, a machine designed for back extension helped tremendously. A quick search tells me that those machines are designed to exercise the Erector Spinae muscles.
I started using the weight machines at Planet Fitness and was disappointed at how little weight I could move on some of them, although I'm improving. The Back Extension machine was the one where I could handle the most weight- 70 or 80 lbs. Maybe that's why (knock wood) my back rarely bothers me.
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:37 PM   #15
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It has been years since I've used weight machines for work outs but when I did, a machine designed for back extension helped tremendously. A quick search tells me that those machines are designed to exercise the Erector Spinae muscles. Occasional back pain experienced yet, usually sudden but quickly gone - if it ever becomes worse I'd definitely be searching for that machine again, either to buy a good used one for home or to use at a local fitness center that has one.
Yes, that's the machine they have in my gym. At least, it's called the Cybex Back Extension Machine IIRC (see photo below). What I do is to *GRADUALLY* work up from two sets of 30 pounds on that machine, to two sets of 160 pounds, gradually gradually GRADUALLY over a year or two, backing off temporarily when it seems advisable and so on, and then to level off at 160 pounds. For me, 160 pounds was enough to really help strengthen my back. But be gentle/careful; as I found out the hard way, you can really mess your back up on a machine like this if you push yourself too hard.

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Old 01-28-2016, 02:59 PM   #16
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In my 30's the doctor gave me stretches and exercises for my back, which I do 1-2X per week. It really helps. My back goes out very rarely now in my 50's vs. then.
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Old 01-28-2016, 03:51 PM   #17
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There was a recent thread, last year I think, about back pain and what to do.

At the time I told my story of exercising solving it.

Today I find myself headed for another chronic episode. It has been over 2 months now of pretty bad sciatica.

I'm trying swimming, but frankly it hurts right now. We'll see if my own medicine works. I'm getting slightly depressed over this.
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:24 PM   #18
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There was a recent thread, last year I think, about back pain and what to do.

At the time I told my story of exercising solving it.

Today I find myself headed for another chronic episode. It has been over 2 months now of pretty bad sciatica.

I'm trying swimming, but frankly it hurts right now. We'll see if my own medicine works. I'm getting slightly depressed over this.
I did start a thread a few months back about habits and back pain.

For me taking Aleve as the label directs for a few days helped to relieve the symptoms. But it kept coming back and stretches (suggested by doc) didn't seem to help. Finally I changed my habits. That helped a lot. Better ergonomics, less time in one sitting position, etc.

Time for me to get up from the computer.
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Old 01-28-2016, 08:44 PM   #19
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All of my pain experience has been helping my wife live through spinal stenosis, severe arthritis of the back, bone spurs and debilitating pain that comes with these problems. And unfortunately heavy duty meds are required to keep her from being an invalid.

This week her podiatrist told her she has no cartilage in the bones of her feet, and she's going to have to have a bone fusion to get rid of the bone on bone pain.

My hat's off to you if you can use physical therapy and exercises to improve your situation. Unfortunately many people have physical impairments that exercise won't benefit greatly.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:20 PM   #20
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Yes, that's the machine they have in my gym. At least, it's called the Cybex Back Extension Machine IIRC (see photo below). What I do is to *GRADUALLY* work up from two sets of 30 pounds on that machine, to two sets of 160 pounds, gradually gradually GRADUALLY over a year or two, backing off temporarily when it seems advisable and so on, and then to level off at 160 pounds. For me, 160 pounds was enough to really help strengthen my back. But be gentle/careful; as I found out the hard way, you can really mess your back up on a machine like this if you push yourself too hard.

Yeah, that's pretty much the one. Good point about moderation, if I went at that machine now with zeal of my uh, 35 year younger body when I was doing fairly serious workouts I'd very likely be a hurtin' unit. This whole conversation reminds of the concerned look on a medical professional's face after they had reviewed a CTScan, and seemed surprised that I was even upright walking. They added a line about "moderate degenerative changes lumbar spine" to my health record, but that was small potatoes compared to the reason for that visit.
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