Back pain can either be caused by or aggravated by the use of exercise equipment that’s not all that supportive of your spine and related muscles. By choosing the right exercise equipment, you can get the most out of your workout and exercise routine without putting added stress and strain on your back in the process that could eventually lead to the need for spinal surgery.
Elliptical Trainer vs. Treadmill
Jogging on a treadmill isn’t considered a low-impact activity, so if you have back pain an elliptical trainer is a better option. Treadmills also tend to produce jarring movement that puts stress on your lower back along with your hip, knee and ankle joints–although some of the more advanced treadmills have adjustments that can reduce impact. However, incline and resistance settings on elliptical machines tend to give you more control of your experience.
Regular Bike vs. Stationary Bike
Unless you’re riding on a flat surface or a well-maintained trail, regular bike rides tend to provide some surprise jolts and turns that may do a number on your back. Stationary bikes, on the other hand, allow you to choose the tension level and position while still getting the benefit of working your leg and lower back muscles. If you have osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis, the ability to lean forward on a stationary bike can also reduce strain on your spine.
Exercise Machines to Avoid If You Have Recurring Back Pain
A lying leg press, while meant to work your legs, puts added stress on your back because the machine forces you to flex your lower spine. The added strain increases the risk of developing a herniated disc. The squeezing action associated with hip abductors can result in back-related muscle pain and weakness from the added strain on the spine and its supporting muscles.
The added weight that a loaded standing calf raise machine puts on your shoulders continues to your spine, which negates any benefits you may be getting from more challenging calf raises.
If you’re not sure which exercise or gym equipment is best for you, a physical therapist or personal trainer can provide more personalized input. While some muscle soreness is normal following a workout, any persistent back, neck, leg or shoulder pain should be evaluated by a board-certified spine surgeon.
Adjusting your exercise routine is often one of the first recommendations spine physicians make to patients experiencing chronic back pain. However, if conservative methods aren’t providing enough relief, it might be time to consult a spine surgeon in Los Angeles. To request an in-person consultation with Dr. Bae, Medical Director at The Spine Institute in Los Angeles, call (310) 828-7757 and take the first step to living a more comfortable life.