We know exercise is good for our health, with a host of benefits ranging from cardiovascular vitality to improved immunity and longevity. From the cellular level to all organ systems, improvements can be seen throughout the body when one incorporates regular exercise and stretching. It is no surprise, then, that exercise is also beneficial for back health.
Should I Exercise?
In short, yes! Most can find some form of exercise they enjoy (or tolerate), and there are options at all fitness levels and price points. In fact, the free ones are often the best!
The benefits of exercise and activity are vast and extend to all parts of your body. Studies continuously emerge with newly-discovered benefits. Although hardly an exhaustive list, here are just a few benefits:
- Mental- Brain-health and mood-boosting endorphins. Mental acuity and memory are improved.
- Increased energy levels and stamina.
- Improved digestion.
- Better sleep.
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary improvements.
- Pain reduction.
- Reduced risk of chronic disease.
- Weight loss and maintenance.
- Immune boosting.
- Slowed aging.
- Muscle and bone strength.
Not convinced yet? There are also benefits for your back and back health, and that means less back pain and the ability to perform daily activities with greater ease.
How Does Exercise Benefit Your Back?
Not only does overall fitness and conditioning contribute to good back health, but certain exercises and stretches can even decrease back pain. Regular exercise and stretching can aid in back health through a variety of mechanisms:
- Improved circulation from exercising brings nutrients and oxygen to the spine, discs, and muscles that support the spine.
- Improved agility, resilience, mobility, and adaptability of the spine.
- Maintaining proper weight takes pressure off the spine.
- Strong core muscles help support the spine.
- Strong back and neck muscles support the neck and spine and improve posture.
- Pressure on the facet joints and spinal discs is also relieved when supporting muscles are strong.
- Even gluteal muscles support the spine. Oftentimes, when they are weak, back problems can ensue. Conversely, activating and strengthening those muscles can decrease back pain.
Consider how many times a day you twist, turn, bend, and lift. Your back supports all those actions, but your back is also supported by a series of muscles and ligaments. Your spine and its supporting muscles and ligaments work together and synergistically to perform a host of movements you execute daily, and often without much thought.
When all these components are working optimally, you can enjoy daily activities effortlessly. However, if any of these components is compromised, you may experience pain, weakness, and difficulty with those activities. Oftentimes, back pain is a good indicator that any or all of these elements might not be working properly and need evaluation.
I’m afraid of getting hurt. Where do I start?
When it comes to back health, proper form is just as important as regular exercise. Without it, even the simplest, low-impact exercises can produce injury. Additionally, bad form and the wrong exercises can prevent you from seeing optimal results — the results you’re working so hard to achieve!
A physical therapist can evaluate your form and identify weaknesses and strengths, in addition to foreseeing problems based on your general fitness level, muscle tone, and activities. Furthermore, a physical therapist can recommend exercises that strengthen your neck, back, core, and gluteal muscles, thereby improving the health of your back.
Whether you’re a seasoned weightlifter, tri-athlete, or even a well-seasoned couch potato, a physical therapist can provide you with guidance and a good foundation for exercises and stretches you can then do at home for free. We don’t believe good health should be expensive or complex; we also believe that small changes make a huge impact over time.
A certified personal trainer can also be helpful in evaluating fitness level, proper form, and recommending exercises, as well as providing guidance along the way.
And of course, Dr. Armen Oganesian and his caring team are here to help you with your back-health needs. If you’re excited about protecting your back and preventing or decreasing back pain, we would love to help! Please give us a call, and we can discuss how we can best assist you.
You can also visit our office at:
250 Lombard Street
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360