The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Currents

February 23, 2014

Monday's Ask Dr. K: Regular exercise helps prevent episodes of back pain

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm recovering from an episode of low back pain. How quickly (or slowly) should I resume my normal activities? I don't want to reinjure my back.

DEAR READER: You're right: It's a balancing act. Too rapid a return may precipitate a relapse, but too timid a return can delay -- or even prevent -- recovery. I can't give you a definitive answer because I don't know the details of your condition. But here's some general advice.

• Pain is a warning sign. Let your symptoms be your guide. Avoid doing anything that hurts. If you feel pain, stop the offending activity.

• Avoid twisting your trunk or making sudden off-balance movements. Try to rid your house of clutter that can trip you up. Slippery surfaces and throw rugs are notorious for causing falls. Lifting objects while your body is in an awkward position can also cause problems.

• Exercise regularly. After an episode of low back pain, resume exercise. Do it at a much lower level of intensity and duration than what you were doing before your injury. Many conditions that cause low back pain are made worse by exercises that jar the spine, such as jogging. Exercises that don't jar the spine —swimming, walking or bicycle riding (either stationary or regular) — should become part of your regular exercise routine.

Why exercise? Most often, low back pain is caused by conditions of the spine and the muscles around it. The muscles that lie along the spine, and muscles in the wall of your abdomen, protect your spine. Build strength in those muscles. Do it slowly over several months.

Stretching exercises also are important. A common cause of low back pain is muscles that have not been strengthened and stretched by regular exercise. When those muscles are challenged by some activity — like carrying a heavy object — they are easily injured.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Currents
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Allison Williams Will Star as Peter Pan in Live TV Broadcast Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Drew Barrymore's Half-Sister Found Dead Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Ariana Grande's Troubled Relationship With Father Is Beyonce Apartment Hunting Solo? Go Inside The Rumored New Digs EXCLUSIVE! Jesse McCartney is a Geeky Guest Star on 'Young and Hungry'—Watch Now! "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Ripped Ripa! Watch Out Kelly's Got Guns Kate Upton Told to Lose Weight Maksim Chmerkovskiy on his "DWTS" Future Bikini-rific! Hilary Duff Wows in New Music Video Ian Somerhalder Puckers Up for One Lucky Fan "Bachelorette" Runner-Up Drops a Bombshell "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Sexy Celeb Hook-Ups at 2014 Comic-Con "Housewives" Celeb Shares Bikini Photo Album Zayn Malik Gets Death Threats for #FreePalestine Tweet One Direction's Liam Payne Strips off on Instagram