When in pain, are there exercises that hurt your back?
The short easy answer is “Yes”! Exercises that you do on a regular basis may actually harm your back if you have recently injured it or are in significant pain. Many patients continue there usual exercise routine while even in a “flare-up” or after a injury. This might actually slow the normal healing time of your back pain. For the sake of being brief, I will discuss lower back pain, but some of the basic principles can be applied to most areas of joint pain. A proper low back diagnosis is recommended prior to continuing or changing your workout program.
Back pain while bending forward (flexion-intolerant).
This is a very common type of lower back pain. The pain will be worse when leaning forward and you might have pain into the buttocks or thighs. Any symptoms radiating further or including changes in bowel or bladder changes, see your doctor ASAP. Many common stretches involve flexion of your lower back. It is paramount to avoid this motion in the beginning stages of a back injury. Many patients will simply not improve until they stop this exercise.
Exercises to avoid with a flexion type low back injury.
First, avoid all exercises that bend your back forward at the waist. These include crunches, toe touches, and seated forward bends. Any exercise that involves a forward posture is not recommended. Some of the other exercises to avoid with a flexion injury are:
Bike reading while leaning forward.
Toe touches while standing or seated.
Any back lying abdominal exercises.
Pulling of one or both knees to the chest.
Seated leg presses.
Lying on your back and pulling a knee up while doing trunk rotations.
Many or at least a couple of these have probably been advised by your chiropractor or physical therapist. If you have the type of low back pain I described, try staying away from these for a couple weeks and see if it helps. After recovery, these exercises are totally fine to resume.
Our chiropractic office in Rapid City, SD offers relief and guidance for this and many other ailments or injuries. Dr Gruba is also a licensed acupuncturist in Rapid City.
There is often no need to suffer from chronic lower back pain. I recommend starting with a proper diagnosis and treatment. It is always best to take an active approach at home, which includes necessary stretching and exercises. But, with poor guidance, your back pain can be a long term problem and may even alter your future.
To Your Health,
Greg Gruba DC