Low Back Pain and Low Impact Exercise Benefits
The human spine is made up of three sections. The cervical spine, the thoracic spine and the lumbar spine.The lumbar spine refers to the lower back, where the spine curves inward toward the abdomen.The Lumbar spine is strong, built for power and flexibility. This curved lower area of the back meant for bending, lifting and twisting.
The lower the vertebrae in the spinal column, the more weight it must bare. The vertebrae that make up this area of the back, L1-L5, are the biggest unfused vertebrae in the spinal column allowing them to support the full weight of the upper body. The two lowest parts of the Lumbar spine, (L4-L5) and (L5-S1) where the Lumbar spine meets the sacrum, otherwise known as the lumbosacral joint, bare the most of the body’s weight and are therefore more prone to injury. In this article we will identify causes of low back pain and exercise benefits of the back.
There are many structures associated with the lumbar spine, which means there could be various inter-related conditions that might cause pain. Some of the more common causes of pain in the lower back are: muscular problems, disk herniation, joint dysfunction, disc degeneration, and Spondyloisthesis. The lower back is made up of large muscles that may become strained or spasm resulting in pain in the area. Also the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back and down each leg to the foot, can cause LBP if it is pinched or irritated. Generally the typical sources of pain can be summed up to irritated big and small nerves in the area, strained muscles, or damaged and degenerating joints,ligaments,bones or discs.
Pinpointing the direct cause of pain is the first step to treatment. Most back pain can be alleviated by heat or cold packs, medication and rest, however effective long term pain relief needs to be supported with exercise to ensure good spine health. The most effective exercise plan will be controlled and progressive and include stretching, strengthening and conditioning the lower back muscles.
Low impact exercises are perfect for LBP because there is a lower chance for further injury or strain. Walking or swimming is a great starting point because it increases oxygen flow to the tissues in the back and promotes healing. Yoga that promotes extension in the spine can help with some disc issues. Also this practice will increase flexibility and strength in the spine which is essential for injury prevention. Full body stretching is a must in exercise program. Relieving tightness in the hamstrings and buttocks by stretching can help treat Sciatica, a common cause of lower back pain. Eventually back strengthening can be incorporated to help protect the delicate muscle structures that surround the spine.
While it is important to practice exercises that are primarily for the lower back, overall spine health can only be achieved through full body strengthening. Your program should be all-inclusive and progress as you get stronger. If you found this article helpful or if you need advice on some other ways to promote back health contact us for guidance.