Protect Your Back

A few easy steps to ensure your back’s good health when you’re in the gym.

BodyYou’re having an amazing workout, when suddenly everything stops. A stinging sensation moves from your leg all the way up your back, sending paralyzing pain through your body. Could the pain have been prevented? Probably. Here are two tips to help you do just that.

Stretch It Out

Before beginning an exercise routine, stretching your body out slowly is still one of the best ways to prevent injury. To stretch out your back, try the following:

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent, and both hands resting on your chest. Then allow both legs to fall gently to one side of your body, while keeping your body in its original position. Raise your legs back to the starting position and allow them to fall to the other side. Hold each stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Lie on your back, feet flat on the ground, knees bent. Pull one knee to your chest at a time, holding for 15 seconds. Repeat for the other leg, and then pull both knees to your chest for one or two repetitions.
  • Resting on your hands and knees, relax your back and let it sag toward the ground while keeping your arms and legs in their original position. Once your back is as far down as it is going to be, bring your back to its original position and slowly arch your back like a cat toward the ceiling. Repeat two or three times.

Strengthen Your Core

In addition to stretching out your back, you should also actively work to strengthen your back. To do this, you’ll need to strengthen the muscles that protect your back – the core muscles. However, if you’re suffering from back pain, you should avoid some of the most common exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles, such as sit-ups (both regular and partial sit-ups) and lifting both of your legs in the air while lying on your back. You should also avoid other exercises that result in back pain or demand a lot from your back, such as standing toe touches.

If you aren’t experiencing back pain, any exercise that helps your core grow stronger is going to help you avoid back pain in the future. At the same time, you can go a long way toward protecting your back by performing other exercises properly and not involving your back in exercises that aren’t meant to work the back.

When Prevention Isn’t Enough

Despite your greatest attempts, you won’t be able to avoid back pain every time. When you begin to hurt in your back, you can often help your back pain feel better at home. A good first step is to ice your back. After a couple of days, you can alternate ice with heat.

While you may think staying in bed will help your back recover, taking bed rest will actually prolong the time it takes for your back to feel better. Instead, stay moderately active, being careful not to further injure your back. In the event your back pain doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks, seek medical attention, as it may require more intensive care than you can provide on your own.

When the Pain Is Too Much

If you’re suffering from unbearable back pain but want to stay fit, there’s good news. Getting some exercise is one of the best things for your back pain. You just have to choose carefully.

For most people with back pain, walking is a great way to stay active. But for those who can’t handle walking because of never-ending back pain, swimming in a pool is a great alternative that is usually tolerable no matter how much pain you’re in on land. So when the pain becomes too much for you to bear exercise, hit the pool!

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