Back pain can make daily life debilitating. In response to the discomfort, many people try to limit physical activity or stop working out entirely. While this is an understandable approach and may be a good short-term solution, when done for too long it can actually undermine healing. Instead, try exercises that strengthen the muscles in the core and back to rehabilitate the spine and relieve back pain.
For those dealing with chronic back pain, the gym may seem like a daunting place, but certain equipment can provide the right kind of exercise for your back to strengthen muscles and ultimately reduce pain. Here are a few machines to try next time you go to the gym:
Running outside or on treadmills can be hard on the back and knees. An elliptical trainer is a great way to get aerobic exercise without impacting your joints or back and can help alleviate back pain. Most machines have varying resistance and incline levels as well as moveable handles to simulate walking, running, stair-stepping, and even cross-country skiing.
Many workout machines operate by using resistance training to exercise groups of muscles. These machines use a stack of weights as a means of resistance. By using the cables, gears, and pulleys, the weights can be controlled with one specific movement. This can be particularly good for sensitive muscles in the back because they lead you through a guided range of motion. Some of the best back and core strengthening machines are the Seated Rowing Machine and the Lat Bar Pulldown.
Stationary bikes provide low-impact exercise that can be great for people with neck and back pain caused by spinal stenosis, facet disease, or arthritis. On an upright bike, you can work different muscles by shifting positions; try leaning forward or sitting upright. The backrest on a recumbent bicycle provides lower back support, so it may be the better choice if your condition limits your ability to bend forward.
Ask a personal trainer if you are unsure how to operate any workout machine. If you are beginning a workout program, it is also a great time to ask your doctor about ActivAided, which will train you to use the machines with proper biomechanics and correct posture for back pain relief and can be used before, during, and after periods of activity.