Exercise and Low Back Pain

In case you missed our Taste of Training event on October 24th, here’s a brief recap of my section on Exercise and low back pain.

Low back pain (LBP) can be divided into two categories: acute and chronic.  Acute back pain is typically the result of a minor injury or over use and goes away with minor lifestyle adjustments and rest and/or stretching.

Chronic back pain is pain lasting longer then 12 weeks, may be associated with other health conditions, or the result of trauma.  Chronic pain is unique to the individual and requires a good deal of patience and understanding of the pain triggers, movements, and functionality.

Both back pain categories benefit from strengthening core muscles.  In Pilates, we refer to the core as the torso, hips, and legs.  These muscles are your power house, where most movements start and are controlled.  Developing strengthening programs that properly strengthen and stretch any muscles that are tight is important for individuals with LBP.

Where does one begin to strengthen the core or power house?

One of the best and easiest ways to strengthen the core is: Side Planks.  Side planks are known for their core activation, specifically the obliques.  This powerful muscle group helps the spine bend and rotate.  Side planks, which performed without spinal rotation is a safe and effective way to build strength in the core and as a bonus it also develops shoulder stability.

Ideally you’ll want to hold a side plank for 90-120 seconds per side.  If you are just getting underway with side planks, lets start are 20-60 second holds and perform 3-8 repetitions per side.

You can also start with regular elbow planks and aim for a similar goal of 90-120 seconds.