The general conception is that people with back pain should rest. This, however, is counterproductive. “If you can move, you should,” Michelle Friedman, lead physical therapist and owner at Atlantic Physical Therapy, says.
Back and knee pain are the two most common chronic conditions with which people seek help, Nathan Koch, physical therapist and certified athletic trainer at Endurance Rehab says. Managing chronic pain is about strength, flexibility and learning how to move properly, he adds. Poor movement patterns must be corrected; otherwise the pain will not go away.
It’s important to determine what increases the pain. Bend on all sides and see what actions improve and worsen the discomfort. Prolonged sitting leads to over-slouched posture, weak hips, thighs and glutes, and wimpy abs, Friedman says. Running is not always recommended. “It depends on the person,” she adds. It may be suitable for younger people. “Those who are new to jogging should start with cycling or the elliptical first.”
Don’t hurry over to the medicine cabinet to take a painkiller if you are in a lot of pain. “Try gentle exercises like stationary bike or swimming, and then hot patches to relieve the acute pain,” Friedman says. Light cardio exercises will stimulate endorphins in your body and make you feel better, she adds. Do some type of low-intensity cardio like walking for 20 minutes a day.
There are two kinds of pain. The good type is muscle soreness, which is fairly common after light weight exercises. Bad pain is any sharp ache that makes you want to scream. This is when you should stop exercising.