It can be tempting to take a break from exercise or skip regular trips to the gym if you’re experiencing back pain. However, doing so could actually weaken muscles that support your spine. Weight-training may be a welcome source of relief that enhances your overall quality of life and make it easier to move without significant pain. Santa Monica back surgeons want to share how resistance bands, free weights, and other forms of weight-training may ease your back pain.
Targets Back-Supporting Muscles
A comprehensive review of several studies on weight-training and back pain found that it’s effective for many patients with lower back pain. When muscles that aren’t triggering pain are targeted, they slowly become strong enough to pick up the slack from other muscles you may not be able to use as much and provide extra support. Due to the versatility of weight-training exercises, benefits may also include:
- Improvements with balance and coordination
- Fewer muscle spasms or pain flare-ups
- Better posture as long as you focus on proper form while exercising
Changes Perception of Pain Over Time
Continuing with weight-training exercises may have other long-term pain management benefits. According to results in one study, participants in a 16-week weight-training program reported noticeable decreases in back pain. The majority of participants in another study that included a 2-year follow-up reported a decrease in perceived pain intensity.
Safely Provides Appropriate Levels of Resistance
As long as you protect your back and know what to expect, weight-training can provide a safe and appropriate level of resistance to strengthen your muscles. You can also regulate the level of resistance by using smaller weights and increasing your reps instead. Doing so may allow you to focus more on increasing your range of motion and flexibility rather than focusing exclusively on how much weight you’re lifting or the level of resistance you’re getting.
Targets All Core Muscle Groups Equally
Weight-training is highly adaptable since there are many different types of exercises that can target different muscle groups. For instance, you could do weight-training exercises three times a week and focus on a different muscle group each day. Doing so can help you prevent placing excessive stress on any one set of muscles. Spine-supporting muscles you may want to concentrate on as you plan your weight-training routine include:
- Abdominal muscles that provide indirect support to the spine
- Psoas and iliacus muscles that allow the hip joint to flex (hip flexors)
- Muscles along the side of the spine that help with rotation (obliques)
- Large paired muscles of the lower back and glutes (extensors)
If you’re new to weight-training, consider working with a personal trainer or a physical therapist. Avoid exercises that include jerky or strenuous movements or ones that throw off your spinal alignment. Do warmups or stretches before you get started. Keep increases in weight or resistance at a level where it’s still comfortable for you to complete movements without excessive soreness. Should you experience any new or worsening pain, take a break or talk to your doctor or a board-certified spine physician in Santa Monica.
To learn about additional exercises that are good for your spine and its surrounding muscles, reach out to The Spine Institute Center. We specialize in a wide variety of minimally invasive procedures, from traditional spinal fusion to cervical disc replacement surgery. Santa Monica patients can count on Dr. Bae to help them find an effective solution for relief. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.