By Stephanie Burke | 8/31/16
1. Make exercise a lifestyle
Exercise is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy spine—and it can also aid in the rehabilitation of your injured spine.
See Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise
You don’t need to be an expert in physical fitness to indulge your spine with regular exercise. A simple exercise program that focuses on stretching and strengthening the back, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles can go a long way toward distributing nutrients into your spinal discs and soft tissues, accelerating your healing process, and keeping your discs, muscles, ligaments, and joints healthy.
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise
By Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD, Orthopedic Surgeon (retired)
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Reconditioning through aerobic exercise is very useful for both rehabilitation and maintenance of the lower back. Patients who regularly undertake aerobic exercise to condition the back will benefit in several ways:
They have fewer episodes of low back pain, and will experience less pain when an episode occurs.
They are also more likely to stay functional (e.g. continue working and carry on with recreational activities), whereas those patients with chronic low back pain who do not engage in aerobic exercise are more likely to experience the gradual loss of functional capabilities.
It is easier to control weight or lose weight, decreasing the stress placed on the spine structures and joints.
An increased production of endorphins after 30 or 40 minutes of exercise can combat pain. These bio-chemicals are the body's natural painkiller, and frequent release of them can help patients reduce their reliance on pain medication.
Endorphins can elevate mood and relieve symptoms of depression, a condition common in those with back pain or a back injury.
Types of Low-Impact Exercise
There are several types of aerobic exercise that are gentle on the back and, when done on a regular basis, highly effective in providing conditioning.
Walking. In general, walking for exercise is very gentle on the back, and walking two to three miles three times per week is very helpful for patients. Walking also has the advantage of not requiring special equipment (except a good pair of shoes suitable for walking) and it can be done inside or outside, in almost any location, including at home on a treadmill.
Stationary bicycling. For those patients who are more comfortable seated rather than standing, biking or stationary biking may be preferable. Bicycling or 'spinning' classes have grown in popularity over the last decade as more people realize the benefits of this lower impact form of exercise. There are several upright and recumbent (reclining) bikes that can be purchased for home use, and many come with programs preloaded so that patients have a good variety of sessions from which to choose.