Exercise is Key to Preventing Lower Back Pain, Research Shows

Most of us have felt at least a twinge in our lower back after a long day sitting at a desk spending a weekend on the athletic field, mowing the lawn or driving a long distance.

The good news is a research study indicating that exercise is one of the best tools for preventing back pain. The study was conducted by researchers at Australia’s University of Sydney and Macquarie University, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. It was published in January in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

After reviewing 23 studies representing more than 30,000 participants, researchers concluded: “The current evidence suggests that exercise alone or in combination with education is effective for preventing LBP. Other interventions, including education alone, back belts and shoe insoles, do not appear to prevent LBP.”

Exercise alone reduced the risk of a lower back pain episode by 35 percent and resulted in a 78 percent risk reduction for sick leave.

Dr. Danish Patel of the Milpitas Spine Center in Milpitas, California, suggests a combination of aerobic activity – such as walking – and stretching exercises. He explains that stretching is crucial because back pain leads to stiffness, which limits your body’s range of motion and overall mobility. Stretching increases your elasticity and flexibility.

Yoga is an effective way to prevent back pain. Here are five exercises to get you started:

Cat/Cow
Get on your hands and knees. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders, and your knees in line with your hips. As you inhale, bend your spine, dropping your belly toward the floor, tilting your head back and lifting your bottom toward the ceiling. That’s cow position.

Exhale into cat position by pulling your abdomen up, rounding your spine toward the ceiling and tucking your chin in toward your chest and your tailbone under. Repeat several times.

Downward Dog
Start out on hands and knees, then tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips. You’ll end up in a triangle pose. You may have to move your hands forward. Bend your knees if necessary, and engage your abs so your back is straight. Let your head hang in a neutral position, and engage your thigh muscles to further support your back. Hold this pose as long as it’s comfortable.

Spinal Twist
Sit on the floor and bend your right leg, so your right foot is by your left buttock. Slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. Gently twist to the left, placing your right elbow on the outside of your left knee and your left arm on the floor behind you. Slowly turn your head to the left until you feel a soft stretch in your neck. Hold it, then release and repeat on the opposite side.

Chair Pose
Stand up with your feet touching each other and your arms by your sides. Inhale. Bend your knees as you exhale, as though you were going to sit in a chair. Next, raise your arms straight out in front of you until your arms are parallel to the floor.
Try to keep your knees from extending past your toes, and release your bottom as you go deeper into your squat.

Standing Forward Bend
Stand up straight, with your arms by your sides. As you inhale, raise your arms over your head, then bend over from the hip joints, not from your waist. Grab your thighs, calves, ankles, or feet, or put your hands on the floor if you can reach. You can also cross your forearms and hold your elbows, which allows gravity to pull your head toward the floor. Keep your thigh muscles engaged to protect your back. Hold the pose as long as you like.
To come out of the pose, slowly roll up your spine, one vertebrae at a time, until you’re back in a standing position. Your head should come up last.
If you have lower back pain, it might be caused by spinal misalignments – vertebrae that have slipped out of position. This can interfere with the free flow of information between your nervous system and your brain. Chiropractic adjustments can correct the misalignments, eliminating nerve interference and allowing the body to function more efficiently.

Dr. Dhanish Patel and his dedicated team of chiropractors and therapists are focused on whole body wellness. They are dedicated to giving your body the support and care it needs to heal.

If you live in Milpitas, San Jose, Fremont, Sunnyvale or Santa Clara and are experiencing lower back pain, contact the Milpitas Spine Center for a complimentary consultation to see if we can help.

Get a Free Consultation