Exercise has consistently been shown to be the most effective treatment for chronic low back pain. The three components of an effective exercise program are aerobic activity, strengthening exercises, and stretching.
Regular aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming, or biking helps in three important ways. First, aerobic exercise improves blood flow to the injured tissues in your low back, helping to speed healing. Second, aerobic exercise helps with weight loss, which can reduce daily stress on the discs and joints in your low back. Finally, regular aerobic activity releases chemicals that decrease your perception of pain so that you are less bothered by your back pain on a daily basis. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day for optimal low back health.
The second component of an effective exercise program is daily strengthening exercises. You want to focus on the full complement of muscles surrounding your hips and spine, including your hamstring muscles, hip flexor muscles, gluteal muscles, and the small stabilizing muscles in your spine. Typically 5-10 minutes per day of strengthening exercises is all that is needed to maintain optimal strength in your spine.
The last component of an effective exercise program for low back pain is stretching exercises. The most important muscles to stretch include the hamstrings, hip flexors, and the piriformis muscles. Both stretching and strengthening helps with maintaining optimal alignment of your spine and decreasing stress on the discs, joints, and ligaments causing pain.
If you would like to develop an exercise program tailored specifically for you, contact our physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Anchorage Fracture & Orthopedic Clinic by calling 907.885.0221 or click here to schedule an appointment online. He can also get you connected with one of our expert physical therapists who can work with you one-on-one so that you learn how to do the exercises properly to avoid injury and gain maximum benefit.