For years back pain has easily been attributed to external causes such as an injury while playing sports, an unsupportive mattress, or just a lousy work chair. Not until recently has medical science started to correlate the impact and link of mental and physical wellness. It has been found that not only does stress aggravate and cause back pain; but that those who currently have back pain and are more stressed may have a more painful experience than those not as stressed with a similar condition. When stress becomes unmanageable it can often manifest itself physically in ways such as neck or low back pain. Below are some ways to not only deal with stress but to learn to control it through exercise. 

Staying active is a great way to handle stress. Exercise can help you burn off steam and clear your mind. In addition, activities like yoga and tai chi can teach you to calm your mind and body. 

Choose activities that help you handle stress. Keep in mind that what works for some people might not work for you. Here are some things to think about when choosing activities to help you lower stress. 

Before you get started. Check with your health care provider at The Center for Total Back Care before starting any new program. If you have certain health issues some activities may not be safe for you.  

If you work around people all day, you might find a quiet activity like tai chi or yoga more calming than other exercises. Or you can go for a run by yourself. 

If your office causes stressful work thoughts, try walking around or some other outside activity like stretching. 

If you work from home or in a cubicle, you might like the social aspect of group exercises (such as a dance or fitness class)

If you play competitive sports, you may be activating your fight or flight response. Add some Pilates, tai chi, or yoga to your routine to give your fight or flight response a break.

Pick activities that you enjoy. Activities that make you upset or uncomfortable won’t help you ease stress. It will only make you less motivated to do them. So pick activities that are fun for you. 

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day most days of the week. You can break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute blocks if  it’s easier for your schedule. Remember, every little bit will help. 

The mental and emotional benefits of exercise are many. In addition to helping to lower your stress level, exercise can help improve your mood, reduce anxiety, combat depression, improve self-confidence, and raise self-esteem. If you have any questions or want to learn more, ask your provider at The Center for Total Back Care if there are any tests, referrals, or treatments that might be helpful to use along with your current treatment plan.