Lower back pain: Exercise this many times a week to ease lower back pain

Lower back pain: Exercise this many times a week to ease lower back pain

Lower back pain usually subsides within four to six weeks but some people suffer from it for months if not years. There are things you can do to help relieve it, however. Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercise can improve lower back pain.

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It is well understood that exercise can increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture.

What is less understood is the optimal amount required to reap the rewards.

Findings presented at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Seattle, have come up with an answer: people with lower back pain are better off exercising more, not less.

A University of Alberta study of 240 men and women with chronic lower-back pain showed that those who exercised four days a week had a better quality of life, 28 percent less pain and 36 percent less disability, while those who hit the gym only two or three days a week did not show the same level of change.

“While it could be assumed that someone with back pain should not be exercising frequently, our findings show that working with weights four days a week provides the greatest amount of pain relief and quality of life,” said Robert Kell, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus.

So, how did Kell arrive at this conclusion?

In the study, groups of 60 men and women with chronically sore lower backs each

Unsure when to get stuck into exercise?

According to Bupa, your GP or specialist will usually recommend physiotherapy for lower back pain.

This may include:

Exercises involving physical activity, movement, muscle strengthening, controlling posture and stretching

‘hands on’ (manual) therapy, such as massage or spine manipulation

Other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful.

Other tips to alleviate back pain

The NHS recommends using hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief.

Unsure when to get stuck into exercise?

According to Bupa, your GP or specialist will usually recommend physiotherapy for lower back pain.

This may include:

Exercises involving physical activity, movement, muscle strengthening, controlling posture and stretching

‘hands on’ (manual) therapy, such as massage or spine manipulation

Other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful.

Other tips to alleviate back pain

The NHS recommends using hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief.

exercised with weights in two, three or four-day weekly programs, or not at all.

Their progress was measured over 16 weeks. The level of pain decreased by 28 per cent in programs that included exercise four days a week, by 18 per cent three days a week and by 14 per cent two days a week.

The quality of life, defined as general physical and mental well-being, rose by 28 percent, 22 percent and 16 percent respectively.

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Unsure when to get stuck into exercise?

According to Bupa, your GP or specialist will usually recommend physiotherapy for lower back pain.

This may include:

  • Exercises involving physical activity, movement, muscle strengthening, controlling posture and stretching
  • ‘hands on’ (manual) therapy, such as massage or spine manipulation
  • Other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful.

Other tips to alleviate back pain

The NHS recommends using hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief.

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You can buy these from a pharmacy, or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel will work just as well, says the health body.

Additionally, try anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen but remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure, advises the health site.

Other forms of treatment

As Bupa explains, it can be difficult to be optimistic when you’ve had back pain for a long time.

But staying positive as well as staying active can help you recover and avoid it becoming long term.

“If you find your back pain is causing you to feel upset or worried, psychological support for lower back pain can help you cope,” says Bupa.

Your doctor may suggest a talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) alongside exercise, it says.

CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

According to the NHS, CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.

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