What are the best exercise programs for people with back pain?
One of the foundations we try to establish with our patients is the importance of proper exercise to keep your back healthy. There are a lot of different programs out there, some are better suited with dealing with back pain. We take a look at some of the more popular programs out there and provide some advice on which ones may be better for back pain conditions.
- Yoga – Yoga is a great option for people with back pain. It focuses on flexibility and core stability will working on breathing and relaxing. Stress is strongly correlated to the intensity of back pain. Yoga is not the best option for weight loss, cardiovascular conditioning, or building muscle mass, but is probably on of the best options for people returning to an exercise program right after a bout of back pain. Many local gyms offer Yoga to its members and exercises can be easily practiced at home with minimal equipment
- Pilates – Pilates also ranks very high as a great option for people with back pain. Pilates focus is flexibility, strength, stability and control and endurance for the whole body. It will have some increased benefits for strength because it will use some resistance training. Pilates strong foundation of improving core stability can definitely help improve spine instabilities that can lead to back pain. Pilates requires some very specialized equipment, commonly known as a “Reformer”. Classes are typically offered by certified Pilates instructors and are often provided one-on-one. Pilates is not something you can easily do at home. Pilates, like Yoga, is not the best option for weight loss, cardiovascular conditioning, but may improve muscle mass due to the resistance element with the reformer.
- Interval training – Interval training is a general term and includes many of the popular programs you see today, P90x, Orange Theory, Crossfit, etc. These programs are very popular because they reduce exercise boredom, by constantly varying exercises. Many people can experience weight loss, better cardiovascular health, increased endurance and more muscle mass with these programs. There is not as much focus on flexibility, as compared to Yoga and Pilates. Many of the programs involve a group setting, which for some people can be encouraging or create a competitive atmosphere. This can be motivating but can also lead people to push beyond their bodies limits, which for people with back pain can exacerbate the condition. These types of programs are widely available and can also vary widely in cost. Having a properly trained coach/trainer is important when doing this type of program. A properly trained individual can help make modifications to the program to better suit an individuals condition. People with back pain should approach this type of program with caution and discipline to stay within their limits and listen to their body.
The important thing is to stay active! People with sedentary lifestyles often experience more back pain than ones with active lifestyles. Doing any activity within your body’s tolerance is better than doing nothing at all. A structured, consistent program can help people with back pain experience a better quality of life. So get out there and move!