Once you’ve injured your back, should you keep exercising?
That’s a question often brought up at Tulsa Spine and Rehab. The simple answer is, yes. You want to keep moving, stay active and stay healthy, just tone it down.
But first, we want to properly diagnose your back pain. Is it just an acute sprain or something more dangerous like a disc problem? For the sake of this discussion, we’ll talk about mechanical low back pain.
My opinion is to stay away from sit-ups and crunches – even when you’re back is normal, healthy and pain free. These are terribly dangerous to your lumbar spine and there are plenty of exercises that mimic sit-ups and crunches and benefit your inner core but without the wear and tear on your lower back.
Squats are a good exercise but don’t do “loaded squats.” Cross Fitters are common patients in our Tulsa, Oklahoma clinic and suffer injuries from this exercise. A loaded squat is simply when you perform a squat with some type of weight overhead. With the added weight, your margin for error decreases dramatically. If your biomechanics are off or your form is improper then you are setting yourself up for a serious injury. Stay away from loaded squats, sit-ups and crunches. Your back will thank you.
If you’ve injured your back just get moving. A simple aerobic activity like walking – not running – but maybe getting on an elliptical machine or stair master. If you can work out in a swimming pool, that is the best option.
Don’t over exercise or speed up your workout either when you’ve injured your back. When you start to exercise, does any certain movement exacerbate the pain? Then slow down. When you are able to flex or bend without pain, then that’s a good sign that you can start doing some more progressive type things. Start slowly progressing to get back into your traditional workout routine.
Maybe your injury is a little more severe. Movement is still good. In the past, primary care physicians would prescribe an anti-inflammatory medicine and tell you to go home and rest. But now conservative treatment research shows that you need to stay active and keep moving – within reason. Get up, walk around the house or go around the block. Do not go home and lie down or get in bed on the couch and not move for days at a time. You want to keep moving, stay active and stay healthy.
If you’d like to ask Dr. Sean Riley a question, you’ll find a submission form on the right side of the webpage. Or you can contact him directly at (918) 743-3737.
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