When it comes to back problems, exercise can serve as both a preventative measure and a cure. It helps ward off back problems by keeping the muscles surrounding the spine strong and fit, which offers maximum support and protection to the spinal column. When back problems strike, one of the most important parts of the recovery process is physical therapy, which may return patients to normal activity faster and reduces their chances of further injury. While it may feel like taking it easy is the best course of action, it’s actually not helpful to rest for too long after sustaining many back injuries. More than a day or two of rest can undermine healing. Instead, try practicing simple back exercises to help relieve pain and return to normal activity.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy exercises increase blood flow through the body, which means more oxygen and nutrients pass through the injured part of the back. Many conditions are caused or worsened by poor circulation, which leads to deterioration of the spinal discs and muscle tissue around the spine. Performing regular exercise also reduces weakness and stiffness in the joints of the spine, making back injuries less likely. When injuries do occur in people who regularly perform back exercises, they tend to be less severe, heal faster and last a shorter duration. A strong back can handle more stress.
It’s important to continue performing physical therapy, even after you think you’ve recovered, for this reason.
Back Strengthening Exercises
The two most common types of back strengthening exercises taught by physical therapists are McKenzie exercises and dynamic lumbar stabilization. These may be used alone or in combination. Both techniques place high importance on stretching.
McKenzie exercises are named for a physical therapist who found that movements that extend the spine reduce pain caused by compromised disc space, alleviating conditions such as disc herniation and compressed nerves. Many patients with degenerative back conditions are prescribed McKenzie exercises. They focus primarily on stretching and centralizing pain, causing the stress and the aches and the tightness to move toward the center of the body rather than spreading out into the extremities; it is believed that lower back pain is more manageable than leg pain. Examples of McKenzie exercises include lying prone on the ground and pushing up first to elbows and then onto the hands in a full press-up, lying on the back and pulling knees into the chest, and sitting in a chair reaching toward the ground until the palms are flat on the floor.
Dynamic lumbar stabilization (DLS) seeks to help the patient find their neutral spine (the position in which their spine is most comfortable) and, from there, focuses on exercises that help the spine stay oriented that way. These techniques rely on proprioception or the awareness of joint placement. Being mindful of the spine’s position is one of the key parts of DLS. Maintaining a neutral spine reduces tension on the spinal ligaments, distributes the force on the discs in an optimum way, improves posture, and provides greater stability. Hamstring stretches performed lying on the floor, pelvic tilts, and arm and leg raises are all examples of DLS exercises.
Consult a Professional
Different back conditions require different types of exercise to heal. If you have back pain or a history of back problems, please do not start trying to do physical therapy on your own without consulting a professional first. He or she will guide you toward exercises that you can perform safely, and teach you how to do them with proper form.
A phone call to MedWell Solutions can put you in touch with the right person or team to help for your unique situation. The road to recovery is just a phone call away, so don’t waste another minute suffering from back pain. Contact Medwell Solutions today.