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HOW TO WORK OUT WITH BACK PAIN

FIRST, A FEW STEPS TO TAKE

It may be totally inadvisable to work out with back pain. The first step is to get professional advice from your doctor – your spine doctor, orthopedic doctor or sports medicine doctor.

I am a veteran of back pain issues. About 10 years ago, I experienced sciatic pain. Nerve pain of any kind is no fun. I dealt with it by first draping my body over an ottoman to decompress my spine. I used an exercise ball as well. This helped, but I did much better when I bought an inversion table.

The inversion table gave me comfort. I began to increase the angle slowly until I was suspending myself upside down. This was fun, as well as effective.

The pain could be managed, but it didn’t stop. I had epidural injections for a couple of years. These eased the pain for about a month each time.

Finally, I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing within the lumbar spine region. This required surgery, which was successfully done.

My surgeon’s immediate advice was to walk as often as I could.

So, my first step was to see a doctor and do what needed to be done. My second step was to begin walking. I had a treadmill and it got lots of usage.

I was in my 70s, but could play as much tennis and golf as I wanted to.

ANOTHER APPROACH

Occasional back pain is common to many people and may not involve nerve pain, as in my situation.

There are therapy exercises to do. Here are a couple, per WedMD:

Knee to chest stretch:

  • Lie on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent
  • Pull one knee into your chest, using both hands
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Go back to starting position and repeat on the other side

Lower back rotational stretch:

  • Again, lie on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent
  • Keep your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side and hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Return to starting position and repeat on the other side

Next, here is a video with Denise Austin. She demonstrates 3 exercises to maintain a healthy back:

These exercises are to strengthen your back, to sustain a healthy back. These are preventive, not remedial, movements.

With no nerve involvement, you can protect your back by doing these exercises along with your regular routine.

Prevention rather than cure is always a better policy. With minimal back pain, do several sets of these exercises, even in the morning and evening. You will only be adding these to your regular routine, not eliminating that routine.

MORE SAFEGUARDS

Even as nerve pain begins, we may continue to work out if we do so carefully. I will be speaking of my personal experience and also citing equipment that I have used with good results.

Amazon provides a few of these items. I am affiliated with Amazon and may be rewarded if qualifying purchases are made. I can also recommend items that I have used or with which I have familiarity. In my opinion, Amazon provides excellent service and an inventory of just about anything anyone may need or want.

Use of an inversion table relieves femoral nerve pain since it eases pressure on our spinal discs and nerves. Sciatic pain is reduced by blood circulation to our legs as we are upside down or at an angle approaching that. A 60 degree angle is fine. Be sure to gradually increase the inversion angle. I enjoyed being totally upside down and creating my own gravity, but I worked up to that over a couple of months

My inversion table is shown below:

Before I bought my inversion table, I got some comfort by hanging over an exercise ball, so that my upper torso was pulling away from my feet.

An exercise ball can be seen below.

A heating pad with massager has helped out considerably in relaxing me.

Amazon gives us many other options with each link. Different but similar choices are always shown.

MY ACTUAL WORKOUT

With intense nerve pain, I could still do a limited workout. I would use Bullworker equipment only and emphasize the isometric holds, though I still began with isotonic reps. I would do the entire workout while seated or while sometimes standing if I felt okay.

With Bullworker tools, I could do smooth movements, especially with the light springs. No jerking weights!

Here are two exercise movements I did while standing and using the Bullworker Bow Classic.

I have the Bow Classic and the Steel Bow. The Steel Bow is smaller, so I used it if I only felt like sitting, with my back braced against the cushion of a chair.

The two exercises in the videos were only two of nine that I did. Others were for biceps, triceps and more back and chest.

The Steel Bow is shown below. The red handles at each end may be compressed for a great chest workout. I do reps for upper chest, middle chest and lower chest.

The black handles may be spread apart to engage the back muscles, though the Bow Classic is better for this. The Bow Classic is a larger version of the Steel Bow. Both are very effective.

The springs may be changed to give us more or less resistance. This is similar to changing plates on a barbell, though much easier.

Bullworkers are small and portable, especially the Steel Bow. I often take my Steel Bow when traveling, to assure that I have a workout possibility. Note the instruction manual and different springs.

One of my prior posts dealt with isometric vs. isotonic exercise modes. This featured more information on Bullworkers.

The Bullworker website will give us full information on all of their products.

FINAL THOUGHTS

To summarize how to work out with back pain:

  • Don’t do it until you check with your doctor
  • Proceed carefully with exercise stretches and other movements to prevent more serious back pain
  • Be even more careful with nerve pain

Workouts need not be eliminated completely, only lessened to fit changing circumstances if your doctor approves.

This has only been my history of dealing with back pain. We are all unique, which is all the more reason to abide by professional medical advice.

The equipment that I have used has been a big part of my ability to avoid lengthy down time with my workout routines. Those routines have changed at times, but I rarely miss a workout.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Wishing you good health!

Richard

2 Comments

  1. The lower back rotational stretch is an excellent exercise for the lower back, whether or not you have back pain, and I do it a lot both in Pilates class and out to relieve stiffness. Walking I believe is also good. I think a lot of back pain stems from the way in which we carry ourselves and our lifestyles. People who sit too much normally get back pain in later years too as I think humans were designed to be more mobile. 

    • Great points, Michel! Unfortunately, lots of exercise does not give us immunity to back problems. I have been extremely mobile for my entire life and still have had back problems. You are right about walking and doing lower back rotational stretches to avoid back pain. Maybe I should have done those stretches when I was much younger. Thanks for your input!

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