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10 facts about exercise and back pain

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We continue with the infographics that summarize the most current scientific evidence, this time I present the most important facts about exercise and back pain. There are already 3 infographies (here and here the other 2) about back pain in the blog, with all the information your patient should know.  The information has been kindly provided by Dr Mary O’Keeffee (University of Limerick), Dr Kieran O’Sullivan (Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar) and Professor Chris Maher (The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney Medical School).

The infographic says as follows…

1. Exercise is helpful for back pain

Staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is very important in aiding recovery. You can start by doing some gentle activity and then increase your levels when you feel confident to do so.

2. Rest is not helpful, but getting back to moving and to normal activities is

Scientific studies now indicate that prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.

3. Exercise can prevent recurrence of back pain

Exercise can significantly prevent the recurrence of an episode of low back pain. Exercise also helps reduce low back pain and disability levels, when people stick with it in the long-term.

4. Moving with confidence and without fear is important for back pain

Many people start moving slowly and minding themselves. Moving slowly and tensing actually puts more strain on your muscles.

5. Exercising in a relaxed manner is important

Doing the exercises in a relaxed manner (eg, moving normally, not guarding and not breath-holding) and progressing gradually is also important.

6. The best exercise is the one you enjoy

People should do an exercise that they enjoy, that is affordable and easy to access (eg, not too far or difficult to fit into your daily routine). For example, walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga and pilates, all have similar effects for back pain.

7. Feeling sore after exercise does not indicate damage to your body

Underused muscles get sore more quickly than healthy muscles. Feeling stiff and sore after exercise does not indicate harm or damage to your body, it simply reflects your body not being used to the activity.

8. Exercise regularly is a must

The amount of exercise you do is probably more important than the type of exercise. The greatest gains result when an inactive person starts doing any exercise. Getting more than 150 minutes a week has the greatest health benefits.

9. Running on the road and swimming the breaststroke are not bad for back

Scientific research does not show that any of these activities are bad for your back or “wear out” your joints. The amount of exercise you do is more important than the type of exercise. Any amount you can manage will result in benefit, but more than 30 minutes per day would be ideal.

10. No drug or tablet delivers the diverse range of benefits as exercise

This is a fact that is often overlooked as part of the management of low back pain. Be aware too that all low back pain is not the same. So if you have tried one form of exercise that has not helped you, talk to a healthcare professional who can set a specific programme.

Link to the original article here.

10 facts you should know about exercising with back pain

Spanish version

Foto del autor

Jorge Rodriguez

Physiotherapist, Member of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), MSc Health Care Technology (cum laude) at Tallinn University of Technology, Exercise Prescription Expert and Social Media Expert. Founder and editor at lafisioterapia.net. Passionate about dissemination in Physiotherapy and health promotion, with special interest in digital tools as a way to improve quality of life.