Are you a Weekend Warrior, a 5km runner or HIIT session goer who finds yourself with a sore back afterwards?
Life is busy. We know we should exercise but finding time is tricky. The weekend comes, and we cram in some fitness without giving ourselves the time to build strength and fitness in a way that avoids injury. 40-something female runners can experience knee pain, whilst men are more likely to experience Achilles issues. Keen kettle bell swingers often injure the lower back due to incorrect lifting and moving and find themselves on painkillers or worse, in A&E. HIIT classes are a fantastic way to get fit – just watch the explosive moves without adequate warm up and control. The benefits of exercise for your lower back are huge so don’t be put off, just be wise!
Here are five simple ideas to help avoid the strain of lower back pain:
- Warm up and cool down – take the time to get going gently for 10 mins before launching in full scale sprinting. All athletes do this. And after the session, make sure to slow it down before stopping. Stretch post exercise – make sure you include all the major muscle groups and stretch for 30 seconds per muscle as a minimum. For example, if you run uphill around the common, include quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors and calves as well as the lumbar and thoracic spine. Factor this time into your session so you don’t skimp on it.
- Build your core strength – there are many ways to do this, but a free and effective way is the Plank exercise – you use your own body weight and it works all the major muscles – get a physio to assess you doing it. HINT: It’s all in the glutes!
- Watch the weight! When lifting weight, increase it incrementally. Get advice from gym trainers. If training with a partner outside, take time to watch each other’s form. Gym classes are great but make sure the instructor is watching you on weights – it’s easy to overdo it on a circuit as everyone else is lifting the same weight and you want to keep up. You will, in time. Your own body weight is also important. Stay lean. It puts less stress on the spine.
- Cross train – no one can expect to do the same exercise day in, day out, without overuse injury. So, run three times a week but get on a bike, or swim or go to yoga too. Use the 3-2-1 rule: three days running, two days cross training and one (or two!) days rest.
- Training with a hangover or lost sleep is a recipe for injury. Another reason to keep the alcohol intake down… and an early night!
KEEP TRAINING and remember, the majority of back pain is down to a simple strain, not anything more worrying! You are likely to fully recover within six weeks with simple principles of keeping moving, getting enough sleep and managing pain. If your pain isn’t settling down (or you have any of the following symptoms: leg pain, pins and needles, numbness, loss of leg power) it’s important you get yourself checked out by one of our Specialist Physiotherapists.