At the start of a new year, every corner of the media, along with friends, family, and co-workers are full of well meaning intentions and advice about making a commitment to getting fit and healthy over the next twelve months. Whether trying a new exercise craze, or resolving to return to a neglected favorite activity, the positive energy and dedication that many people project at the beginning of the year can often help to motivate even the most uninspired people to get moving.
But for many chronic back pain sufferers, even the best intentions and a strong desire to sign up for paddle surfing or salsa aerobics can – and often is – hindered by the inability to perform even basic physical movements, like climbing a flight of stairs, without being overwhelmed by pain and exhaustion.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from back injuries and pain mistakenly believe that doing nothing is the best option for keeping back pain at bay, when in reality, inactivity can make the problem worse by leading to muscle weakness and atrophy, putting even more strain and pressure on the spine and lower back.
While signing up to train for a marathon when suffering from a herniated disc may be a little premature, there are practical steps that people with back injuries can take to help ease pain, and build strength and flexibility.
Make an Appointment with a Spine Specialist
While a little occasional back strain is normal, especially around the busy holiday season full of long car and plane rides, shoveling snow, or hauling and lifting heavy gift packages, consistent back pain that does not resolve on its own over time, or respond to rest and over-the-counter pain medication like Advil or Tylenol is usually a sign of a more serious back injury. Listen to your body, and schedule a physical exam with a specialist if back pain persists.
Start in the Kitchen
Most people resolve to lose weight in the new year because they don’t like how they look in a bathing suit, or want to shed excess pounds from too many helpings of holiday turkey, ham, and pie. And while they are valid reasons to make an effort to eat better and get to a healthy weight, being overweight places additional pressure on the lower back and spine that can exacerbate pain.
Starting the new year with an honest inventory of what and how we eat, and making small modifications to build on progressively – drastic overhauls are almost never sustainable long term – can make a serious dent in the waistline by Memorial Day Weekend. Try switching out a breakfast muffin or sugary pastry for oatmeal or a fiber rich cereal and add a favorite piece of fruit, and work from there.
Move at Your Own Pace
Cardio boxing or an aggressive hike sound too painful (or just plain awful?) Start with an enjoyable walk around the neighborhood, or treat yourself to that Groupon for swimming at the local pool. Contrary to the American cultural ethos of “no pain, no gain,” exercise does not have to be intense – or painful – to benefit your back health and overall fitness. Always consult with a back doctor before undertaking any new physical activity to avoid further injury.
Orthopedic Spine Surgery Los Angeles
Are you suffering from chronic back pain, or a painful condition like degenerative disc disease? Contact board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sanjay Khurana, Dr. Rojeh Melikian, and the team at LA Spine Group today at 310.231.6516 to schedule a consultation, and to learn more about the minimally invasive treatment and recovery options available at the Los Angeles Spine Group.