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Injured back Exercises

Exercises / July 18, 2023

People who suffer from lower back pain are encouraged to help with their own recovery by exercising and getting physical therapy, but are seldom given the knowledge and tools needed to accomplish this. This discussion will provide a basic understanding of the causes of lower back pain, and discuss appropriate steps to exercise and rehabilitate a painful back.

Of course, getting better is only the beginning, since further episodes of back pain are quite common as time passes. Whether suffering from the first bout of low back pain or following extensive treatments or even surgery, the best way for patients to avoid or minimize the severity of recurrences is to rehabilitate the back through appropriate back exercises.

Exercise and Causes of Back Pain

There are several structures in the back that can cause and/or contribute to low back pain. These include:

Intervertebral Discs

Although the intervertebral disc is a remarkably versatile and strong structure, essentially acting as a shock absorber during everyday activities, sometimes the disc fails when there is a sudden, unexpected force (such as a fall, lifting, or other trauma), or due to ordinary wear and tear over time. And when the disc does get injured it cannot repair itself very well, which is one of the major reasons recurrent back pain is so common.

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Making matters worse, the pain often interferes with a patient's ability to exercise, which adversely affects disc nutrition. Nutrition for the disc is achieved when physical activities and exercise cause the disc to swell up with water and then squeeze it out - much like a sponge. When pain affects our physical activity, the injured disc is deprived of its nutrition and begins to degenerate.

Activity is also needed to maintain the exchange of fluids in spinal structures and reduce swelling that naturally occurs in the tissues surrounding an injured disc. This swelling can further irritate nerves that are already affected by herniated disc material.

Spinal Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons

The collective soft tissues around the spine - the muscles, ligaments and tendons - are also very important in maintaining proper spinal balance and strength. With decreased activity, the connective fibers of ligaments and tendons can begin to adhere to each other and lose resilience and may tear when sudden overload occurs. Unlike discs or connective tissue, however, when soft tissues are injured, they can quickly repair themselves.

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