Although specialists once thought that resting was the best prescription for a bad back, it is now shown that exercise relieves back pain. And carefully designed exercises may be even more effective in reducing back pain. A sedentary lifestyle and unnatural alignment of the spine have a lot to do with back pain, a condition that affects 31 million Americans at any given time, according to the American Chiropractic Association. One study found that half of all working Americans report back pain symptoms whether they are seated or standing on the job.
Exercise Relieves Back Pain
If you spend most of your time sitting at a desk, it’s easy to hunch your shoulders and neck forward to look at a computer screen without even noticing. And if you hold that position for hours at a time, especially with your legs crossed at the knees, your spine can really suffer. For women, wearing high-heeled shoes can add to spine stress.
By the time we reach our fifties, many Baby Boomers have created bad habits and bad backs.
What Makes Your Back Especially Sensitive to Pain?
The back is a complicated structure of nerves, bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. The sensitive triangular area of the lower back, between the hips and above the tailbone, is called the sacrum. From the sacrum up through your neck, your spine is linked to a large portion of your nervous system, which controls and coordinates every function of your body. Spinal nerves are routed from the vertebrae in your spine and connect with various parts of your body, including your internal organs. Exercise helps to keep your back healthy and avoid injuries or accidents that may occur even from simple movements like bending over to pick up something that dropped on the floor. It also prevents the back pain that can result from conditions like arthritis, obesity and psychological stress.
*Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
Luckily, it’s possible to change your posture for the better, standing or sitting, and relieve that chronic pain – as well as the restricted breathing, digestion and circulation that holding an unhealthy posture may cause.
The most effective way to improve your posture is by stretching your spine and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles so that your whole core area gets stronger. Exercise also works to remedy sudden injury to back tissue and muscles.
One of the most effective ways to relieve back pain is back extension. Back extension helps to reset your vertebrae into proper alignment and to relieve nerve pressure. You can do it standing, sitting or lying face down (yoga cobra pose).
Exercise Relieves Back Pain
Stand feet comfortable apart. Place your two hands behind you at the lumbar area. Gently arch your back and look upward without stretching the neck too far back. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Try this anytime your back feels fatigued. You’ll be surprised at how much relief it gives you. But don’t do it if you are in severe back pain. In that case it’s time to call your doctor.
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