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“What can I do to at home to manage back pain?” The easy answer to this question is to stay active. Slow and steady wins the race, and the same is true in dealing with low back pain. Take it one step at a time whether you’re eager to get back to the gym or just trying to get through the next week in the office in as little pain as possible.
Start by keeping your everyday activity level as close to normal as possible without aggravating your back pain. It’s important to stay active, even with some initial discomfort, and to get as close to your baseline as you can tolerate. But unreasonable expectations—hitting the gym and lifting weights the day after a back injury, for instance—will get you into trouble. Re-injury is all too common and not worth the extra pain nor the prolonged recovery time. Avoid lifting heavy weights until you prove that you can perform less vigorous activity without back pain.
Stretching exercises are easy to do at home on a mat a few times a week. Stretches will help warm up your muscles and reduce further strain. Make sure you get the go-ahead from your from your doctor or physical therapist before starting new exercises.
The biggest thing to keep in mind: Do not over-flex or over-extend your spine. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling severe pain, stop. If you aren’t able to tolerate as many sets as you’d like today, don’t be discouraged—there’s always tomorrow! Any progress is still progress. The pace of recovery can be slow, but doing exercises safely will ensure your recovery for the long haul.
In addition to stretches, strengthening your core muscles can help speed recovery from subacute or chronic back pain. Your body’s core muscles, bones, and joints actually support your back by offsetting your back movements. Strong core muscles not only take pressure off the back but also improve general balance, flexibility, and posture.
Check with your doctor and physical therapist before attempting core exercises and stretches. Back-friendly core exercises include the Bridge and the Modified Plank. The latter involves lying on a mat and maintaining your body in a horizontal position on your forearms and knees for 20 to 40 seconds. Stop if you feel pain.
It’s best to get a physical therapist or professional to check your form and make sure your back is straight, since doing a plank improperly can actually worsen back pain. Done properly, however, both the bridge and modified plank will tighten your abdominal muscles and build core strength.
For more information on back pain, purchase Managing Low Back Pain from www.UniversityHealthNews.com