We have all heard how exercise is good for the heart, improves circulation, and helps people lose weight. But did you know that regular exercise is also good for your spine? Not only will exercise improve your overall fitness, research shows that it can also help prevent back injuries and reduce back pain.
But in the wide world of fitness and exercise, how do you know which exercises are best for you? Keep the following in mind.
Types of Exercise
There are 3 basic types of exercise:
Strengthening your muscles, especially the abdominal and back muscles, will help stabilize the spine and make it easier to maintain correct posture and perform daily activities. Strong muscles will help support and protect your joints and help prevent injury to the connective tissue found in the knees, neck, shoulders, elbows, ankles and, most importantly, the lower back.
There are many ways to do strengthening exercises. You can use free weights, exercise machines, elastic bands, even water exercises. However, don't feel you need to buy expensive equipment or join exclusive fitness centers to be able to do this type of exercise. The following are just a few examples of strengthening exercises that can be done at home and do not require expensive equipment.
For low back strength and stability:
For upper body strength and Stability:
When performing strengthening exercises, keep the following in mind:
This type of exercise helps to improve and maintain flexibility, so you can move your arms, legs, neck, and back through their full range of motion. Stretching also helps prevent muscle strain and soreness and helps prepare your body for more strenuous activity. Stretching exercises therefore should be done before and after any type of vigorous workout.
A few examples of stretching exercises include the following:
When performing stretching exercises, keep the following in mind:
Aerobic exercise has numerous benefits including strengthening the heart and lungs, increasing energy, improving sleep, decreasing blood pressure, and burning calories for weight loss.
If you are athletic, there are plenty of sports activities that are aerobic in nature including jogging, biking, swimming, walking, cross-country skiing, and skating. But even if you are not an athlete, there are ways to incorporate aerobic activities into your daily life. Here are a few examples:
Try to incorporate at least 15 minutes of any type of aerobic activity 3-4 times a week. Each session should begin with a few minutes of warm-up stretching and end with at a few minutes of cool-down stretching. This will help you avoid injury and decrease soreness and muscle fatigue.
A few good examples of low impact, aerobic exercises include swimming laps, cycling, spinning, or treadmill walking at slow speed.
The best way to prevent injury is by having strong, flexible muscles and joints that resist strain and injury. The back and neck like movement. Putting the back in a static position for long periods of time, such as sitting at a computer screen for hours, increases the risk of back or neck strain. The best preventive medicine for neck and back strain is movement. Take frequent breaks away from the computer screen to stretch.
Here are some easy stretching exercises for simple neck pain that can relieve simple cases of neck ache. Some can even be used on the job to relieve neck strain.