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Low back pain is a condition that almost everyone experiences in their lifetime. Pain can be frequent and may become chronic if the condition is poorly managed.
Feelings of helplessness, negativity, depression, anxiety, fear, or distress are often associated with chronic low back pain. These feelings often lead to decreased activity and movement, but being inactive is the worst thing for back pain management. Here are some dos and don’ts of managing your back pain.
• DON’T avoid activity. Inactivity leads to more pain, weakened muscles, and decreased strength, aerobic capacity, and flexibility. Activity can be painful; however, lack of movement can cause the pain and your functional abilities to become worse over time.
• DO remember your spine is strong. Your spine is a robust structure that can tolerate movement and mechanical load.
• DON’T believe you need a diagnosis to have pain. Diagnoses such as bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis are very common as we age; however, you can be in pain and not have a diagnosis.
• DO exercise. Exercise focused on aerobic conditioning, flexibility, and functional strengthening is better than pain medications, spinal injections, surgery, and inactivity to manage chronic low back pain.
• DON’T wait to do something about your pain. Back pain can become disabling if left untreated. Be proactive and seek guidance to manage your pain sooner rather than later. Physical therapists specialize in providing you with the tools and knowledge to help guide you through the healing process and manage pain while avoiding complete inactivity.
• DO start slow. A good place to start exercising is with a gradual, consistent walking program and beginner-level yoga to improve mobility. As your activity tolerance and mobility improve, appropriately advancing strengthening is beneficial.
Chronic low back pain does not have to be a debilitating condition. It may take some time, but with proper guidance and education, you can gradually begin to improve your overall quality of life.
Once your painful flare-ups are under control and no longer produce severe symptoms, it is then best to progress to a consistent exercise program that focuses on general strengthening, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning. Here are five essential exercises to perform at home to strengthen your muscles.
If you need help developing a plan to manage your back pain, click here or call (804) 764-1000 to meet with an expert at Sheltering Arms and create an exercise regimen that is right for you.