Best Exercise for Lower Back Pain
Getting motivated to exercise when you are feeling great can be difficult! Now imagine that you are experiencing back pain. You know that you need to exercise but aren’t sure which is the best exercise . . . so what is the best exercise for back pain you ask?
Best Exercise is Running or Walking?
How running can cause back pain: As you know, running is a high impact activity. Your feet hit the ground harder the faster you run, therefore, the repetitiveness can be hard on the joints and the spine. Studies like in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that the spine shrank by several millimeters after a minimum 6 km run, and the shrinkage was directly related to the running speed. This just shows the amount of stress that is put on the spine during a run. Running might not be best option if you have back pain.
How running can help with back pain: Being overweight, stressed or depressed are factors to back pain, and running is a great exercise to lose weight and reduce stress.
The most common cause of back injuries is lifting or carrying heavy objects especially lifting with your back instead of legs. This kind of pain will usually last a few days or weeks. Walking works due to the release of serotonin and endorphins, chemicals that make your mind and body feel better. Another benefit of walking is, it blocks pain through distraction, known as the Gate Control Theory of Pain: When working the large muscle groups such as the legs which fires signals to the brain overloading pain messages coming from the smaller nerves. Best to walk on a flat surface during your healing period vs hills which forces you to lean forward and puts strain on the lower back.
Proof of walking benefits: Walking lessens pain, gains strength, increases flexibility and prevents it from happening again. The Spine Journal study in 2004 showed that a walking just one time can reduce back pain 10 to 50 percent. Another study in 1993 showed that walking on a treadmill for just 10 minutes reduced back pain.