Exercise—It's Good for Your Back, Too
It's well known that regular exercise can help you lose excess weight and improve your overall health. But did you know it can also help prevent back pain and injury? A review of numerous studies focusing on exercise to protect the back found that people who worked out regularly experienced less back pain and had fewer sick days due to back pain than those who did not exercise.
Exercises for back pain focus on strengthening the muscles in the back and abdomen (the "core" muscles) and stretching the muscles in the back. Walking also is an effective way to strengthen the back and improve posture.
Stretches and flexibility exercises for your hips and even your shoulders are also helpful, because improving your flexibility in these areas will decrease the demands on your back. A physical therapist can provide you with instruction on exercises such as the pelvic tilt, cat stretch, and partial sit-ups.
You can ask your doctor to recommend a physical therapist. Or, the American Physical Therapy Association (apta.org) offers an online database of providers, which can help you find a therapist in your area. Look for a physical therapist who has experience working with people who have your specific back condition. The therapist should also be licensed. When you call to schedule an appointment, be sure to ask whether the facility accepts your health insurance, so you don't get hit with a big bill at the end of your treatment.