Living with chronic back pain does not have to prohibit you from enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle. Whether at the gym or from the comfort of home, you can use exercise equipment that will not only jump start your fitness regime, but actually help alleviate the pain as well.
When exercising, it is important to avoid high-impact aerobic workouts that place too much strain on the back, such as running, jumping and tennis. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise, on the other hand, increases the circulation of blood and nutrients to the back structures without jarring them, helping to relieve stiffness and support healing.
The treadmill is a smart machine for beginners, as it provides a straightforward and low-impact aerobic workout. The machine is gentle on the back because it propels the body forward with each step, decreasing stress on the joints and spine. Its smooth surface also helps to negate risks such as tripping, falling and worsening your back condition.
The elliptical has many advantages for those who suffer from back pain because it insures minimal pressure on the bones, joints and most importantly, the spine. The machine’s pedals are suspended in mid-air so that users can simulate walking, running and/or skiing without the harsh impact of repeatedly landing on the ground.
The stationary bike, another no-impact workout, is ideal because it focuses on moving large muscle groups in smooth, cyclical motions that relieve pressure from the spine. There are two types of stationary bikes, upright and recumbent, both of which have advantages depending on the type of back pain. The upright bike is beneficial for patients with spinal stenosis, because the bike allows the rider to lean forward, flexing the back and thereby relieving the stenosis while exercising. If you are experiencing lower back pain, the recumbent bike’s reclining seat will offer you more support and balance.
Low impact aerobic workouts that do not include exercise equipment can also promote back health. Swimming is arguably the best workout for patients with back pain because the water supports the body, eliminating essentially all impact on the spine structures. Pilates is also a smart choice for long-term maintenance because it teaches awareness of neutral alignment of the spine, while strengthening the core and the postural muscles that support this alignment.
As always, consult your physician before starting a new workout routine.
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