Researchers Find Exercise is Best Dose of Medicine for Low Back Pain
I can’t quite remember exactly when it started. Maybe I had slight episodes here and there of lower back tweeks. Too many twists on the dance floor or a tug-a-war walk with the dog. I attributed it to being careless and clumsy and eschewed the idea of age. After all, I worked out like an animal and felt strong like Wonder Woman.
Slowly my low back pain started to linger and then I started having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I didn’t like taking ibuprofen all the time, so with reluctance similar to most “guys” who hate going to the doctor, I made an appointment with a recommended chiropractor. After a few adjustments I thought I’d be good to go. But this doctor put me on physical therapy. What? I was disappointed. I already worked out daily!
His team put me through an hour-long regimen for six weeks. They showed me some exercises that were way too easy. I complained that I had to go find and request an adjustment from the doctor afterwards. I signed up for chiropractic care, not physical therapy. Like most Americans I just wanted him to fix me, quick.
Much to my surprise the exercises helped me.
I was getting out of bed easier and could return to the normal abuse I impose on myself. My experience validated what I always preach about exercise curing what ails you. Now University of Sydney researchers confirm it too.
Their review was published in this month’s JAMA Internal Medicine. It used 21 back pain studies with 30,000 participants and found that exercise was the most effective treatment for reoccurring lower back pain. It worked better than medicine, better than surgery, better than shoe inserts, back belts and other gizmos. If anything the researcher said these other treatments gave back-pain sufferer a false sense of hope and cost the country upwards of 80 billion dollars a year. And people still suffer.
It makes sense to me, a lowly exercise instructor, that you must “move it, or lose it”. I see it all the time with my clients. The body is amazing and is designed to heal itself when given the love and care it requires such as good eating and proper movement. People who sit a lot at a desk or watching t-v allow their bodies to deteriorate.
When people move they feel better physically and mentally and their body respond with the strength and vigor they need to carry out their activities.
I have a fitness class full of senior citizens who follow along with every step of the younger attendees. They never stopped moving and now in their 70’s and 80’s they continue. The ones who do yoga and Pilate’s type exercises seem to have even more longevity. The rocking chair industry must be on the decline in Colorado.
Like everyone, I get busy or lazy. I stop doing the exercises and the pain returns. The key is to stay on top of it. Find out what exercises help and then include them in your lifestyle. Talk to your doctor and physical therapist before beginning a new workout routine. I found out many of the exercises the physical therapist gave me are done in a regular yoga class. Now I’m incorporating it into my lifestyle.
A gym membership or a yoga DVD is a lot cheaper and more enjoyable than surgery or taking medicine with side effects. Another note the researchers made about helping back pain, stop smoking. The way it dries out the skin, it dries out the discs in your back that provide shock absorption.
Let this be a shout out to one of my exercisers, Sadie who is suffering from back pain and is trying to quit smoking. Just do it!
- JAMA Internal Medicine: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2481158