Safe Exercises to Do When You Have a Back Injury
Just because you’ve injured your back doesn’t mean you have to consign yourself to the couch for the next few months. You can still hit the gym and you can still keep fit.
The goal then becomes making sure that you can work out without hurting yourself even more. Whether an injury to your back felt like a sudden stab of pain or like a slow buildup into something you can’t ignore, you can still stay active.
The best thing to do is to get advice from a physical therapist on form, alignment, and some new exercises to help rebuild after an injury. The most common back injuries include fractures, strains, sprains, herniated discs, and stenosis.
No matter what you’re dealing with, a physical therapist can help you check your alignment, move smoothly and slowly to avoid reinjuring the spot or making it worse and increase your workouts slowly.
Doing lat pulldowns on a machine is a great option for returning to exercise slowly.
The critical thing to remember about lat pulldowns is to move slowly and work within a small range. If you try to pull the bar behind your neck or pull the elbows back instead of straight down, you’re putting pressure on your spine and shoulders.
This exercise is also very flexible; you can do it from a seated or prone position if your low back is troubling you.
Focus on Core
If your back has a tendency to go out on you, your core is not strong enough to handle the weight you’re trying to lift.
To build a strong core, especially if you have low back pain, work on bridges and planks to build up the muscles between the pelvic bone and navel. If your lower back is so sore you can’t plank, start on your knees or start with your feet out wide until you find that straight line from the back of your head down to your tailbone.
Bridges can be done while lying on a mat. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor, then press up so your body is on a slant from knees down to shoulders. If you can’t bridge from the floor, find a big workout ball and lay with your feet on the ball.
Lift your hips and try to form a long diagonal line from shoulders to shoes.
Take Stretching Breaks
Stretching breaks can be good to relieve pain during a workout and can prevent you from getting more injuries while you work out.
If you usually wait to stretch until the end of your workout, try adding some stretches after each set of reps. Sore muscles lose elasticity. If you have low back pain, keeping your hips stretched is a great way to get rid of that tight ache at the base of your spine.
Get Professional Help
Many types of muscle pain show up because something is misaligned. If you’ve been fighting back pain for a while now, contact a chiropractor or physical therapist to make sure everything is in the right place.
Also, take the time to rest and be sure to ice the spot that hurts to try to reduce inflammation. Sometimes, misaligned areas will return to the right position but not if there’s a great deal of swelling or you’re pushing through pain and reinjuring it.
Muscle pain and alignment pain are very different. If the pain won’t stretch out or ease up as you work out, you need to see a professional.