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Keeping Your Back Healthy

As the Pandemic claims lives, inactivity is claiming backs.

The more inactive you are, the more likely you are to develop back disorders.

Over 80% of the adult population will experience at least one painful back disorder, and those are statistics PRE-Pandemic.

As debilitating as inactivity and back disorders can be, there is action you can take right now, in the privacy of your own home, to prevent painful pain dysfunctions.

I will provide you an exercise prescription and program design below to hopefully prevent your back issues from occurring.

Even with a healthy exercise program, some things can go wrong.

  1. Be ADVISED: It is always a great idea to consult with your doctor when you feel something going wrong in your body. The following are a list of back issues that require medical help:
  2. Back or neck pain that radiates down your arm.
  3. Any numbness or tingling in your arms or legs.
  4. Weakness in your arms or legs (for example, you can’t stand on your toes).
  5. Back, neck, or extremity pain that gets sharply worse with coughing, sneezing, or straining to move your bowels.
  6. The following Exercise Prescription is based on the rationale that chronic back disorders are caused by tight and or weak back and abdominal muscles.
  7. Your “Core” must be strong and limber to prevent back and most neck issues.

In many cases of chronic back pain, the issue may be distal from the core, i.e.: tight hamstrings or gluteal muscles can also create back issues. Keep this consideration in mind and always consider how important it is to develop your body in symmetry in both strength and flexibility.

The Exercise Prescription for Back disorder Prevention (at home/limited equipment):

This is designed for the quickest, least effort to obtain results. Feel free to do more if you have time, motivation, and/or the need for faster results.

  1. Do some form of NON-Impact aerobic exercise every day working up to 60 minutes/day
  2. Do the strength exercises below 3 days/week on non-consecutive days (i.e.: M, W, Fri.)
  3. Do the flexibility exercises every day (up to 4 times/day, 4 hours between sessions for fastest results)

Flexibility Exercise Program Design for Back disorder Prevention:

  1. Hamstring stretch (standing or seated)
  2. Back Tuck
  3. Back Tuck (single leg)
  4. Cobra
  5. Side bend

If you have time and motivation, add a quadriceps stretch and piriformis stretch (of course it is best to stretch every muscle group in your body)

Strength Exercise Program Design for Back disorder prevention:

  1. Pelvic Tilt
  2. Crunch (holding pelvic tilt)
  3. Back extension
  4. Neck muscles strengthening (ALL Directions)

Once your back issues are corrected, consider a strength training program for your entire body for optimal benefit.

Please review the exercises recommended above from your IFPA Personal Training Manual: “The Book on Personal Training,” by Dr. Jim Bell.

The neck muscles exercises are not described in your manual so use the description below:

Your neck should be exercised in 6 directions:

  1. Forward
  2. Backward
  3. Tilting left
  4. Tilting right
  5. Twisting left
  6. Twisting right

Use your own hand(s) as resistance for each exercise. Start gently. The total movement can begin as an isometric and progress to movement up to and including, your fully functional, pain-free, range of motion.

If you are already experiencing back pain, you might be asking: “When are my back problems bad enough to see my doctor?”

  • When it hurts so bad you cannot sleep.
  • When you tried the Exercise Prescription above for a few days and have no improvement or your back gets worse.
  • The pain is not just in your back/neck but radiates into other body parts
  • You have numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
  • You notice sudden weakness in your arms or legs
  • Coughing, sneezing, or other straining makes the pain worse

I hope that this Virus Crisis ends soon, and we can all get back to our normal lifestyles. Pending that day, I also hope the information provided here helps you prevent back pain that can become excruciating and debilitating!

I and all of us at the IFPA wish you ALL health and prosperity.

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