Your Back Needs Exercise
Physical activity is an excellent way of preventing back pain. It improves core muscle strength, which, in turn, means your lumbar vertebrae don’t have to work so hard. When we exert ourselves, in whatever way, numerous muscles in the body join forces to achieve the desired result. The wide range of activities we undertake all contribute to the body’s muscle development.
Having good musculature makes physical effort easier and helps us maintain good posture. It limits spinal injuries too. The king of sports, for someone who wants to take care of their back and strengthen their back muscles, is swimming. The body floats in water. So the restrictions caused by body weight acting on the spine are taken out of the equation.
However, choose your stroke carefully: avoid butterfly, which exerts the most tension on the spine (mind you, if you’re new to swimming I doubt you’ll be starting with the butterfly). My advice is breaststroke. But not any old breaststroke. Use head-down breaststroke: make sure you put your head under the water with each stroke or your back will arch. Crawl is also good, but be sure to turn your head to one side and then the other.
Always breathing on the same side teaches the body ‘asymmetric’ habits – not a good idea. Then there’s back crawl, ideal for beating back pain. But more physically demanding and not great if you want to avoid getting splashed in the face, or worse.
So, I have given you these glowing recommendations, and now come the objections: I don’t like the water, I can’t swim, the pool is too far away, etc. Okay, I get it. But, I’m not beaten yet. Do you know that using an exercise bike develops your back muscles? Do you know that mastering the art of the mini-dumb-bell workout develops your back muscles? Do you know that yoga develops your back muscles? Do you know that walking develops your back muscles? Do you know that you’ve run out of excuses?
Move! Move at your own rhythm, play sport or do any form of exercise that appeals to you, but move. The simple act of stretching, making yourself more flexible, gardening or choosing to walk to the shops rather than take the car will be beneficial to you. Make a note: your back’s worst enemy is inactivity.