Find out why inactivity is perhaps the worst thing you can do for low back pain.
Bed rest and inactivity are bad for low back pain, you may already know, but do you know why?
“Muscles need to move, as this is their key function in life,” says Dr. Moshe Lewis, MD, who is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and has been the chief of PM&R at California Pacific Medical Center.
“Inactivity thus leads to muscles contracting and shortening because they have a decreased distance to traverse.
“While this process is slow, it can be quickly exacerbated by back pain or an injury. While it may seem natural to rest after an injury, this should be limited to two or three days. The longer one takes to move, the harder it is to get moving again.
“This presents a challenge however, because when there is evidence of significant tissue trauma such as fracture or disc herniation, or significant bone involvement such as spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis, people will find several movements, if not all, very, very painful.”
Suppose, however, your back pain or ache is due simply to lack of exercise, and there is no bone or nerve involvement.
The muscles have shrunk and shortened. They are not being used the way nature designed them to be used, and quite literally, the adage of, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” applies here.
I’m a former personal trainer and, I hate to admit this, but around six years ago I began noticing a persistent aching in my low back.
I’d lifted weights and had done other physical things for years, yet my low back developed a daily ache.
I ramped up my low back floor exercises; no change. I’d always done exercises for the lats and rhomboids, but obviously, these failed to prevent the development of this low back pain.
It was interfering with my hanging leg lifts. I tried massage therapy; no change.
I wondered what ELSE could I do, as far as exercise. There HAD to be something that would cure this low back ache.
Well, there was one particular exercise that I had not considered as a solution. I gave it a try, and within eight weeks, my low back discomfort was GONE.
I’ve been doing this exercise ever since, and it’s my favorite! It’s the deadlift (above), and anybody can do it.
Dr. Lewis is the founder and CEO of Golden Gate Institute for Physical Medicine in CA, which provides education and clinical management of pain.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.