January 6, 2010
Lower back pain affects everyone, but it doesn't have to stop you. Personal Photo/Jennifer Cunningham
Almost everyone experiences lower back pain at some point, but for some people it is a never ending aspect of their life. Pain in the lower back can be brought on by weak supporting muscles, trauma, injury, strain, nerve damage, or poor posture.
Always get clearance from your doctor before beginning an exercise routine if you are worried about damage to your tissue. If you have back pain associated with an injury, then you should go easy on the exercise for a couple days. Try to return to exercise as soon as possible. It is rare to need longer than one week of rest for most injuries. This doesn't mean to return full strength to your previous exercise routine however. When you do start exercising after an injury, start slow and work your way up depending on how much your back can handle.
If you have chronic recurring back pain, you need to exercise, but you will have to find exercise that works around the pain. There is no evidence to show that chronic back pain not associated with an immediate injury causes any damage. Understand that certain sitting and standing positions cause discomfort so find what works. The recumbent bike is a great example because it lets you lean back in a more comfortable position compared to the up right bike. Swimming is another option that is easy on the back. Walking can be good, but if the standing position is hard on the back- start out walking short distances at first and work up to longer distances.
If you have been sedentary for a while, start out with low intensities for about 2-4 weeks. Go for 3 days a week, and work your way up to 5 or more days slowly. If you aren't sure if you are working at a low intensity, just try to have a conversation while exercising. You should be able to effortlessly carry on a conversation while exercising during the beginning stage. Avoid hip and back muscle exercises in the first 2-4 weeks. You can get to them after you have built up a base.
If you have lower back pain due to weak supporting muscles then you need to do more strength training with the focus being on the abdominals, obliques, and lower back. The weights should be low with moderate repetitions. Maintaining good posture will also help strengthen the muscles and alleviate back pain.