WV Healthwatch: Low Impact Exercise Can Help Ease Lower Back Pain

When a person experiences lower back pain, the deep stabilizing back muscles atrophy and weaken in as little as 24 hours. To recover normal spinal function, it is important to keep the back muscles active – even with the gentlest and least strenuous of exercise.

These deep back muscles are countered by the deep stomach muscles to provide stability to the lower back. Other muscles that provide a support to the lower back – such as the large muscles in the buttocks, the long muscles that span the back from the shoulder to the pelvis, and the large bands across the back must also be gently exercised.

It is important to keep all exercises low-impact to prevent further pain. Proper back posture during exercise is important to avoid straining vulnerable spinal tissues. As the condition improves and the exercises progress to a higher level, more expansive movements can safely be performed, to simulate motions used during daily activities.

Exercise intensity, positions, and complexity must be appropriate for on each person’s health, spinal condition, level of conditioning, and age. For example, a young and active person may tolerate high-impact, highly-repetitive exercise, but an elderly person may need very light sitting or lying exercise.

A person in considerable pain may need to do all exercise while lying in bed or on the floor, using pillows or rolled up towels to create cushion and support for their injured backs. Most importantly, try not to exercise alone — find a buddy to spot for you and assist you in case you overexert yourself and hurt your back even more.